Ben Ainslie aims for fourth gold medal at London 2012 Olympics
The London 2012 Olympic Games swings into action this weekend as hundreds of British athletes compete for gold.
Competitors from across the country will be eying their chance for glory, but it is from the Falmouth area that arguably comes one of Britian’s best chances for silverware this summer.
Former Penryn Junior School pupil Ben Ainslie, whose parents still live near Helford, will be looking to get his fourth gold medal in the Finn sailing event to make him the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.
He has previously won silver, at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and gold in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Bejing 2008.
Ben is set to start sailing in the London 2012 Olympics on Sunday, July 29, with the medal race taking place a week later on Sunday, August 5.
The Finn fleet, at Weymouth, will consist of 24 sailors from five continents and is one of the most competitive fleets ever mustered for an Olympic regatta.
Ainslie is favourite although he has shown everyone the occasional chink in his armour over the past year.
However, he had a good warm up for the Olympics winning the Finn Gold Cup, held in Falmouth in May.
Whatever happens, Ainslie will undoubtedly be the story of the week.
He has already stated that anything else but gold would be a disaster, so he is bound to make the headlines, winning or not.
Ben, reflected: “Home Olympics makes it very special. I was in Trafalgar Square when they announced that London had won the bid for 2012, the atmosphere was electric and that’s when I decided I
wanted to continue my Olympic career and be a part of it. It is the most important regatta in my life right now, but they were all important to get to this point. I guess I have had more time to
prepare for it, and I have had to as the home competition has been tougher and the venue is also tough strategically.”
With such a talented pool of sailors victory is not a given for Ben and he will have to work incredibly hard for it. More than half the fleet are quite capable of denying Ainslie a dream result.
One man who knows that only too well is the 2008 silver medalist Zach Railey (USA). He was the only man who could beat Ainslie going into the 2008 medal race, in Bejing, but had the door firmly shut in his face by a determined Brit. Ever the optimist Railey summed up the competition.
“These are the best Finn sailors in the world going head to head at their best and that is the exact situation I want to put myself into and see where I come out in the end. It is the ultimate test and I can’t wait for it to begin. I race every race from a clean slate. I do not worry about the end result until the regatta takes me there. If I am beaten by someone because they were better than I was, I can accept that, but I cannot accept beating myself. The athletes always get better and better and smarter and smarter. It is amazing the progress you see over just a four year period. You have to constantly keep making improvements or you get left behind.”
Other sailors who pose a threat to Ben include; Netherlands' Pieter Jan Postma, France's Jonathan Lobert, double European champion Kljakovic Gaspic and 2007 world champion Rafael Trujillo.