Ben Ainslie in cruise control despite disappointing Olympic warm-up
London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Though he did not finish with flourish in the final event heading into London 2012, four-time Olympian Ben Ainslie remains a favorite in Britain’s sailing medal hope this summer.
Ainslie lost to fellow Brit Giles Scott at the Sail for Gold Regatta earlier this month.
It triggered speculations as to his form and his prospects in the upcoming London Games.
The three-time Olympic gold medallist Ainslie, who suffered from illness at the start of the event and a capsized boat in the final race as he finished second to Scott in the Finn class in Weymouth, brushed aside ‘amusing’ question marks on his form.
Apart from the stringent requirement, one spot per nation per boat available in London 2012, the impressive showing of Scott further increased pressure on Ainslie, 35, one of the most successful ever sailor.
Scott dominated December’s ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth before coming out on top at the recently concluded Sail for Gold Regatta on Olympic waters.
The 24-year-old Scott missed out on an Olympic berth to Ainslie, who secured his spot with victory in last year’s test event.
Ainslie, who won the world championships just two weeks before the Sail for Gold Regatta, indicated the pressure intensifies as the Games approaches and one has just has to deal with it.
“I mean, two weeks previously I won the World Championships and everybody said it was easy. Then [Scott] Giles won the Sail For Gold regatta and suddenly, in two weeks, I’m in everyone else’s eyes under-performing,” the record three-time ISAF World Sailor of the Year winner said via the Mail Online.
“You notice those expectation levels a lot more because we’re at home. Previously we’ve been abroad and you don’t quite get the feeling of anticipation and expectation but we are experiencing it now, being at home which is fantastic,” added Ainslie.
Though Ainslie is not Olympic host Britain’s only sailing medal hope heading into this summer’s Games, a successful defense of his Finn title in Weymouth would solidify his claim as the greatest ever sailor.
A gold medal would enable Ainslie to overtake Dane yachtman Paul Elvstrom, who won four gold medals between 1948 and 1960.
Ainslie took home the silver at the 1996 Olympic Games and the gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics in the Laser class. He then moved to the larger Finn class for the 2004 Summer Olympics, where he won the gold, and dominated the same class in the 2008 Games.
Meanwhile, Ainslie, who has been recognized Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 following his success at the 2008 competitions, was the first person to carry the Olympic torch in the UK on May 19, 2012.