Fri, Aug 10, 2012 - Page 19 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Australian pair grab 49er gold, Kiwis take the silver

Reuters, WEYMOUTH, England

Australia’s Nathan Outteridge, left, and Iain Jensen compete in the men’s sailing 49er class race in Weymouth, England, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Australia and New Zealand confirmed gold and silver respectively in the men’s 49er class on Wednesday, while defending champions Denmark took bronze with 14 nations having shared 21 sailing medals in the regatta so far.

Australia and New Zealand had already secured their medals on points in earlier races and just needed to take part on Wednesday, but they competed as if the medal race still counted, finishing fourth and second respectively behind Austria.

“It felt like a tough race to be honest,” Australia skipper Nathan Outteridge said. “We were just watching the race for the bronze, which looked very stressful.”

“We just wanted to stay out of trouble ... [so] we were at the front,” Blair Tuke of New Zealand said.

Australia’s four-time world champions Outteridge and Iain Jensen showed their class throughout the event, leaving New Zealand trailing 24 points behind at the finish.

The Kiwis played second fiddle again having come second to Australia at the last two world championships.

“We’ve worked extremely hard over the last three years. They [Australia] sailed a little bit better than us,” Tuke said after thousands of people enjoyed the sunshine while watching the racing from the grassy hill of the shoreline Nothe course.

Denmark, who came third on Wednesday to finish 58 points behind the leaders, collected their second sailing medal in the 49er class after taking gold at the Beijing Olympic Games.

“But this feels like gold,” bronze-medal winner Allan Norregaard said. “Everything worked out really good for us there. We had to make a separation from the others ... [when] we went left on the final upwind leg to the top mark.”

“We tried to keep some tension going,” he added. “We’re very happy to come home with a medal.”

New Zealand’s women are hoping to go one better than their men’s pair as they chase gold after finishing joint first with Britain in the women’s 470 ahead of today’s medal race.

“It was one good race and one sort of shocker ... we always seem to have one terrible race,” New Zealand’s Jo Aleh said after Wednesday’s races.

Britain’s world champions Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who only came together last year, have no intention of settling for the silver medal.

“We came here to win. We just need to finish off,” Clark said.

The Netherlands were chasing bronze in the women’s 470 with commercial 747 pilot Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout third overall just ahead of France and Brazil before the medal race.

“We’ve got to fight for the bronze. We have to make sure we stay in front of them,” Berkhout said.

Australia, clear favorites in the women’s Elliott 6m class, beat the Netherlands 3-1 in their best-of-five quarter-final on Wednesday on the second day of the knockout stage of racing.

Australia, who have lost only once in 15 races, next face Finland, who were surprise 3-1 winners of their match against the US.

A protest by Britain over an infringement in the fourth race of their 3-2 defeat by Russia was dismissed and the Russians face Spain in the semi-finals.

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