Sailors come to Australia’s Olympic rescue
Waterborne gold medals are the traditional mainstay of Australia’s Olympic effort, but this time it’s the sailors not swimmers who are pulling off a rescue act. Tom Slingsby won sailing’s Laser class on Monday and world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are mathematically assured of winning the 49er skiff gold on Wednesday.
WATERBORNE gold medals are the traditional mainstay of Australia’s Olympic effort, but this time it’s the sailors not swimmers who are pulling off a rescue act.
Tom Slingsby won sailing’s Laser class on Monday and world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are mathematically assured of winning the 49er skiff gold on Wednesday, even if they come last in the final race.
Malcolm Page and Mat Belcher are also fancied contenders in the 470 class, with further strong prospects in the women’s match racing at Weymouth on England’s south coast.
Between them the sailors could spare the blushes of an Australian contingent that has been performing solidly without being able to convert seconds and thirds into Olympic titles.
Slingsby’s gold was the second for Australia in London but the first by an individual.
It helped push Australia up the medal table slightly to 19th position, still four places behind New Zealand and a long way from the top five finish they have targeted.
It gave Slingsby redemption after he went into the 2008 Beijing Games as world champion and hot favourite but crashed to finish 22nd.
“If I didn’t do well at these Olympics I’d definitely hang up the shoes,” he said.
Australia’s only other medal on day 10 of the Games was a bronze at the velodrome, where 25-year-old Olympic debutant Shane Perkins shook off the effects of a virus to win a ride-off for third place in the men’s sprint.
The gold was won by Britain’s Jason Kenny, giving the host nation its fifth win from seven completed track events and pushing Britain way up the medal table behind superpowers China and the US.
Shooter Michael Diamond looked set for the third gold medal of his career in the men’s trap before faltering at the end of the two-day event to miss the medals altogether.
Competing at his sixth Olympics, 40-year-old Diamond led the field with just five of 150 shots remaining when he missed twice in succession and was relegated to a shoot-off for the bronze, which he lost.
“I really can’t describe in words how nervous and how nerve wracking it is out there when you’ve only got one shot at a target that’s doing 70 miles an hour and you’re not sure what direction its going to fly,” said Diamond.
“I actually moved the gun before I saw the target and I never ever do that.”
He was aiming to join a list of just three Australians – swimmer Dawn Fraser, equestrian rider Andrew Hoy and hockey player Rechelle Hawkes – to have won a gold medal in the same event at three different Olympics. He has now vowed to press on to Rio in 2016.
Edwina Tops-Alexander will lead a two-pronged Australian assault on gold in Wednesday’s final two rounds of the showjumping.
She was fourth in qualifying after dropping just one gate in three rounds of competition.
Fellow Aussie Julie Hargreaves also progressed into the 34-person field, where all competitors will start on zero for the last two rounds. – AAP