Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jian Yin delivers China's first ever Olympic sailing gold

[Source: ISAF] Windsurfer Jian YIN won China's first ever Olympic gold medal in sailing after a nail-biting finish to today's Women's RS:X Medal Race.
Heading into the slalom finish Jian YIN was lying in fifth place but staged a magnificent comeback to finish third and secure the gold medal. Alessandra SENSINI of Italy won the Medal Race to take the silver medal, becoming the first female sailor to ever win fourth Olympic medals, whilst Great Britain’s Bryony SHAW won bronze.

YIN won by the narrowest of margins, finishing just one point ahead of SENSINI to add the Olympic gold medal the silver she won in Athens four years ago. SENSINI knew she had to put two boats between her and YIN to take the title and put in a true champion’s performance by winning the Medal Race, but with YIN in third place it was not quite enough for gold. SENSINI, gold medallist in Sydney 2000 and winner of Olympic bronze medals in 1996 and 2004, completed her set of Olympic medals by winning silver, in so doing becoming the first female sailor to ever win four Olympic medals. SHAW sailed a great Medal Race and was never out of the leading positions. She crossed the line in second place, securing the Olympic bronze medal, Great Britain’s fifth medal of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Jian Yin, China's first ever Olympic gold medallist in sailing. Qingdao, 20 August 2008. Photo copyright Clive Mason/Getty Images

Expectation hung in the air today in Qingdao with thousands of Chinese spectators packing the spectator breakwater at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center in the hope of watching history in the making. The tension was obvious at the start with a general recall signalled as the 10-boat fleet pushed the line. The fleet got away cleanly in the second start in a bright sunshine and an 8 knot breeze from the southeast, which dropped slightly during the race and shifted around to the south.

World #1 Marina ALABAU (ESP) took the early lead, closely followed by SHAW, SENSINI and YIN, and these four fought it out at the front for the rest of the race. SENSINI had a great final downwind to lead going into the slalom with ALABAU and SHAW close together in second and third. Olga MASLIVETS (UKR) had also sailed strongly on the second downwind to move ahead of YIN. At this stage, with SENSINI looking certain to win the race, YIN had to make up at least two places to win gold.

Over the three legs of the slalom course the Chinese sailor found a gold medal winning surge. She immediately passed MASLIVETS and began to pull in third-place ALABAU. At the same time, SHAW pulled ahead of ALABAU, the Spaniard threw in a tack and YIN seized her opportunity, reeling in her rival to huge cheers from the breakwater. SENSINI went on to cross the line first, SHAW followed in second and then YIN came over in third place assured of gold. A scrum of boats immediately surrounded her as the host nation celebrated their first ever Olympic gold medal in sailing.



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