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10 August 2012, 01:03 pm
Belcher And Page Continue Australian Gold Rush
Belcher and Page with their medal making coach, Viktor Kovalenko
Belcher and Page with their medal making coach, Viktor Kovalenko

London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain

Australian Men's 470 sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) lived up to their billing as pre-event favourites, taking second place in a nervy Medal Race to win gold.
Their closest opposition, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (GBR), had to make do with silver after pushing the Australians all the way in the light-wind race, but in the end finishing fourth on the day.

Bronze went to Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG), who were third in the Medal Race, which was won by Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO).

On the victory Page said, "It's a special feeling after a really tough battle all week. Luke and Stu really brought their a game and we had to work hard for it."

Belcher added, "We talked about it [winning Olympic gold] on the last reach, our hearts were beating and we couldn't believe it. It was such a hair raising race and to come to a medal race like that to decide a gold medal was unbelievable."

On taking silver Patience said, "It feels good to finally enjoy it. We were pushing ourselves as there was a gold medal to be had. It's a small disappointment, to not get gold."

Belcher and Page carried a four-point advantage from the opening series into the Medal Race which meant Patience and Bithell needed to beat them by two places to win gold.

On the starting line, Belcher and Page tried to harry the British crew into a poor start during the final minutes before the off but Patience and Bithell shrugged them off and took control at the starting gun.

After a tense first leg, Patience and Bithell rounded in first place with Fantela and Marenic in second and the Australians in third. At that point the British crew were on course for the gold medal. But by the end of the second leg Belcher and Page had taken the lead, with the Croatians second and the Brits third.

Patience and Bithell split sides with the Australian crew on the second upwind leg, and when the two boats converged they had closed to within a few feet, triggering a frantic tacking match as the two crews fought to gain the upper hand.

However, Belcher and Page's blocking tactics worked and the Australians rounded the next mark in second place behind Fantela and Marenic, with Patience and Bithell in fourth behind third-placed Calabrese and de la Fuente - who now looked good for bronze.

On the final leg, Patience and Bithell's challenge for gold evaporated when they incurred a penalty turn for illegally trimming their sails for extra speed, leaving the Australians unfettered to finish the race in second and in the gold medal slot.

Calabrese and de la Fuente were never challenged for their bronze by their only rivals Gabrio Zandona and Pietro Zuccheti (ITA), who finished the Medal Race in sixth and took fourth place overall in the regatta.

"I was proud to do this for my country," said Calabrese. "This is not a well-known sport in Argentina but the support has been great.

"Our plan today was to stay close to the Italians. Juan did a great job and managed the boat well. It has been a lot of work and I can't say I've enjoyed it. I suffered a lot - but it has been very well organised here."

Top Five
1. Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) - 22pts
2. Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (GBR) - 30pts
3. Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) - 63pts
4. Gabrio Zandona and Pietro Zucchetti (ITA) - 72pts
5. Paul Snow Hansen and Jason Saunders (NZL) - 86pts

Follow all the action on the ISAF Olympic Live Blog which will bring competition updates and instant reactions to the action on the race course. Fans can check in and ask our media team questions to get the very latest information. The blog will start one hour before racing each and every day of the competition.


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