Scott’s gold erases pain of missing out in 2012
Britain’s domination of Finn goes back 16 years Silver gives Dempsey windsurfing record
There was no way Giles Scott was going to miss out on Britain’s gold rush. After the personal pain of his absence from London 2012, Scott yesterday secured Britain’s fifth successive gold medal in the Finn class, having opened up an unassailable lead before tomorrow’s medal race.
Scott arrived in Rio as close to the surest bet of a guaranteed British gold medal. The 29-year-old had won 16 of his previous 18 regattas, was unbeaten in two years and a triple world champion. Being a redhot favourite, though, carries a price, both in terms of the weight of public expectation as well as being targeted by his rivals.
Until this point, Scott had stoically dealt with the pressure. But with light slowly fading over Guanabara Bay as he sailed to second place in the 10th race, his resolve slowly crumbled. “Towards the latter stages of that final race I found myself welling up, and had the tingles as it slowly dawned on me what I had done,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t put myself down as the emotional sort but I had a little cry to myself.
“The emotions that end up coming out of you in that situation you can’t really prepare yourself for. It was amazing. When we put the campaign together after London, we decided that the way we wanted to campaign was flat out. We were not going soft in any regattas; we wanted to win and we wanted to win in style. That approach does put a target on your back.
“To have been able to maintain that gap and to come into the Olympics and win with a race to spare gives such huge justification for those decisions we made earlier.”
There was the additional burden of filling perhaps the biggest shoes in sailing in the form of Ben Ainslie, his rival turned America’s Cup employer. In 2011, the two went head to head for the right to represent Britain at a home Olympics in what was effectively a gold-medal shootout between the two best Finn sail- Wind in his sails: Giles Scott on his way to winning gold in the Finn class ors in the world. Scott lost, and spent the week of the sailing competition in Weymouth in a drunken stupor. Now Scott has his moment.
After eighth- and second-place finishes yesterday, his points tally stands at 32, meaning that he cannot be caught by Vasilij Zbogar, of Slovenia, who is on 56. Providing Scott turns up then the gold is his, ensuring Britain has held possession of the Olympic Finn title for 16 years dating back to Iain Percy’s victory in Sydney.
Scott’s success followed on from Nick Dempsey becoming the first male windsurfer to win three Olympic medals after taking silver behind Holland’s Dorian van Rijsselberghe, who had already sealed gold before the medal race.
After declaring that he would retire after Rio, Dempsey, who won silver at London 2012 and bronze at Athens in 2004, now appears to be having second thoughts.
“I don’t know what is next,” Dempsey said. “I would like to do my photography stuff, I would like to do some coaching, I might work a bit within the team, I might carry on sailing a bit more. I am just going to take some time. I don’t know [if I will be in Tokyo], probably not.”
Solace of missing out on gold was provided on the occasion of his 36th birthday on Saturday by his son, Thomas, who told him: “It’s OK daddy, you have two silvers now, which is the same as one gold.”
Silver surfer: Nick Dempsey celebrates winning his third Olympic medal