Giles Scott has wrapped up Olympic gold, continuing Great Britain’s domination of the Finn class.
Few debutants at Rio 2016 shouldered quite as much expectation as the 29-year-old Englishman, having failed to win just two regattas in this Olympic cycle, getting silver in those events. However, the overwhelming bookmakers’ favourite flourished rather than wilted under such pressure and maintained Britain’s Finn stranglehold in style.
Started by Iain Percy’s Sydney 2000 triumph and continued in the next three Games by Sir Ben Ainslie, Scott ensured that his country would take home a fifth successive Olympic gold in the class with a race to spare.
The four-time world champion merely needed to complete the final race to top the podium, finishing second in a medal race that doubled up as a lap of honour.
“It has been a huge luxury – there’s not many times you can say you have won an Olympic Games before the medal race,” Scott said, having become the second British sailing medallist following Nick Dempsey’s silver in the men’s RS:X.
“We knew coming here to Rio that the racing wasn’t going to be easy. Regardless of form, it was always going to be a hard week and it certainly was that. I had a particularly shaky start. I’ve managed to pull through some good consistency and, yeah, to win it the way I have, I couldn’t ask for any other way.”
Scott posted a disappointing 17th in his first ever race at an Olympic Games, seeing him end the opening day tenth overall. Soon, though, the qualities so abundantly evident over recent years became clear, meaning he ended the fleet racing with three race wins, two second places and a pair of third places.
It meant Scott could not be knocked off the top of the podium in yesterday’s medal race, merely having to complete it to carry on Britain’s dominance of the Finn.
“The initial hit of race ten was, really, I think the big moment where it did really, really hit me hard,” Scott said, having known gold was his on Sunday. “Since then, I’ve just had some time to think about what we’ve done, put together and just look back on the last three years, really.
“It is incredibly good to be in a situation where we can look back and say now that all the decisions we made back then, we thought so hard about, all came good and were the correct decisions to make.” Meanwhile, Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are on the brink of winning women’s 470 gold.
The duo arrived at the Rio Olympics with unfinished business after taking silver on the home waters of Weymouth and Portland four years ago.
It was a challenge they met head on and a fine regatta means they are all but assured of Britain’s second sailing gold.
Mills and Clark secured two third places either side of a second to build up a 20-point cushion ahead of the medal race. It means that, subject to protest, the British duo will become Olympic champions if they complete the double-point medal race without disqualification.