Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie won his fourth successive Olympic gold medal on Sunday to become the most decorated sailor in Olympic history.
The 35-year-old clinched the Olympic Finn title in front of huge crowds in Weymouth after finishing ninth in a tense final race, edging Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen into the silver medal position.
"I can’t really believe it. I’m just relieved to have got through today,” said Ainslie afterwards. "It was always going to be tough. The race was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in my life.”
With four golds and one silver medal, Ainslie overtakes Danish Olympic legend Paul Elvstrom – who won four gold medals between 1948 and 1960 – to become the most successful sailor in Games history.
The Briton’s first Olympic medal came in the Laser class in Atlanta in 1996, when he won silver at the age of 19. He then claimed Laser gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, before winning the Finn class in Athens in 2004 and 2008.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, who competed in sailing at the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games, hailed Ainslie’s achievement.
"I congratulate Ben Ainslie on winning his fifth Olympic medal, an historic fourth gold, following his victory in the Finn class,” he said. “To have managed this over five Olympic Games, in a sport where you can only enter one event, is a truly remarkable achievement."