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Sailing

It's still smooth sailing for the British

August 23, 2008
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QINGDAO, China - Britannia really did rule the waves, with its best haul of sailing medals in a century.

With six medals - four gold, a silver, and a bronze - Britain was the most successful sailing nation at its third straight Olympics.

"It's getting tougher every year," team manager Stephen Park said yesterday. "The other countries are hot on our heels."

Australia finished with two golds and one silver, followed by Spain and the United States, each with one gold and one silver.

The British team's elation, however, could not match the burst of flag-waving Chinese joy on the breakwaters of Qingdao when Yin Jian won the host country's first sailing gold in Olympic history. That victory Wednesday came in the women's RS:X windsurfers; China also took a bronze in Laser Radial for women.

The Americans' biggest triumph belonged to Anna Tunnicliffe. She won the Laser Radial class, earning the first gold medal for a US female sailor in 20 years. The 25-year-old Tunnicliffe was born in England, moved to the US with her British parents at 12, and later became an American citizen.

Park said that these Olympics "will be remembered as a fantastic year with our best medal haul since 1908." That year, the British also had four gold, one silver, and a bronze.

"We came here thinking we had 11 teams that could compete for medals," he said. "We successfully took medals in half the disciplines."

Park said that could be tough to match at the 2012 London Games.

Australian team leader Michael Jones was somewhat disappointed, even though it was the country's second-best sailing Games after Sydney in 2000.

"We came wanting to kick the door in and do really well," he said, adding the British are "at the top of sailing and will remain at the top." (AP)

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