Ben Ainslie hoping gold is plain sailing

Updated: 22 July 2012 22:25 IST

Triple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie will lead home hopes in the sport of sailing in which Great Britain leads the all-time medals table with 50, including 25 golds.

Ben Ainslie hoping gold is plain sailing
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Paris:

Triple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie will lead home hopes in the sport of sailing in which Great Britain leads the all-time medals table with 50, including 25 golds.

Olympics 2012 | Schedule | Venues | Medals Tally

Ainslie and his fellow mariners will have the particular attention of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, who represented Belgium in the event in three Games.

The Olympic action takes place many miles away from London.

At Portland, there is a naval base and a prison, all close to the sleepy Dorset coastal town of Weymouth, made famous in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Ainslie has already had a year to remember having been given the honour of starting the Torch Relay in Land's End which he termed 'an unforgettable experience'.

He has also seen his beloved Chelsea win the Champions League in dramatic circumstances - now he wants to cap it by winning his fourth gold on home waters.

Although born in landlocked Macclesfield, the 35-year-old grew up on the same stretch of coastline where they will compete, although he was further south west in Cornwall.

He immediately found the water to his liking and competed in his first world championships aged 12.

Two of his gold medals come in the Laser class (2000/04) before he put on some bodyweight and moved up to the Finn class and collected gold in 2008.

Earlier this year he recorded a record sixth world title in the category in his dinghy with the endearing name 'Rita'.

Having become Britain's youngest ever sailing medalist when he won silver in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Ainslie can become only the second ever to win four golds, emulating Denmark's Paul Elvstrom, who won four golds between 1948 and 1960.

Oddly enough Ainslie's hopes of winning gold have been blessed by the Olympic rules as only representative from one country in each class can compete which has ruled out probably the only person capable of beating him, compatriot Giles Scott.

The 24-year-old has had the better of his older rival for a while now and it was perhaps this that forced Ainslie into pushing too hard against Scott in the last Regatta before the Games and saw him capsize.

"It's a bit embarrassing going for a swim," said Ainslie. "But sometimes these things happen. Thankfully it wasn't the Olympic Games. I made a mistake, we're all human."

While Ainslie looks a class apart, his compatriot and fellow gold medalist from Beijing, Paul Goodison, faces a tough battle to retain his Laser crown with Australian world champion Tom Slingsby the man to beat after winning the last event at the same Weymouth Regatta earlier this month.

However, it promises to be a bitter duel as Goodison was spitting tacks after losing to Slingsby in Weymouth.

He claimed the Australians had ganged up on him - unlike the Olympics there was no restriction on the number of sailors from each country.

"He won't have his mates out there to help him next time," stormed Goodison.

Topics : Sailing Olympics 2012
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