Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have won gold in the 470 men’s class at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The win was a historic one for Australia, with Malcolm Page becoming the first Australian sailor to win two gold medals, defending his Beijing 2008 win.
Belcher and Page went into the medal race four points clear of Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell with the British needing to beat the Australians and have a boat between them to claim the gold.
Light winds made the decider an incredibly tight affair with just six knots of breeze on the course at the start. Belcher and Page rounded the top mark third, with the British out in front, but fought back on the run to take the lead by the bottom gate.
The two crews stayed close on the final upwind, engaging in a tacking duel as they approached the top mark, with the Australians going around in second and the British fourth. On the final run the British were forced to do a penalty turn after receiving a penalty for rocking the boat, giving Belcher and Page some breathing room.
Belcher and Page crossed the line second, with the British fourth, to win the gold.
“I’ve gone through the highs and lows in the last 15 years, from missing selection to failing at an Olympic Games and obviously feeling the highest reward of success in Beijing,” said Page. “These last four years have probably been some of the most rewarding of my whole sailing career, the development of Mat and I as a team under Victor’s guidance has been incredible and the team that we’ve become is the best I’ve ever seen. This is our eighth regatta in a row that we’ve won and it’s an incredible feeling.”
For Belcher it’s a gold medal at his first Olympics but one that has been a long time in the making.
“It’s been 12 years of work to get to this stage,” said Belcher. “Just to make it to the Olympics was quite special after eight years of trying to beat Mal. I thought I was going to give it away but while driving the media boat in Beijing I decided I wanted to give it another shot, with the best crew in the world, the best coach in the world and the best support staff in the world.
“We would love to have had a few more points coming in to today but in saying that we won half of the races,” he said. “Luke and Stu sailed a fantastic week as we did. I don’t think we expected to pull away from the rest of the fleet as we did. Racing on the Nothe is great for spectators but quite difficult for racing. We made the most of the situations, a few things went our way a few things didn’t, we kept calm and I think that showed our experience. The first time around the top mark we didn’t have the gold but by the bottom we did. It’s tough to race like that, there’s a lot of pressure and tension and it was nice to have trust in ourselves to get the job done.”