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16 August 2008, 04:30 am
AINSLIE Aims For Third Gold In Sailing's First Ever Medal Race At The Olympic Games - Follow The Action LIVE!
Ben Ainslie of Great Britain
Ben Ainslie is on course to win his third Olympic gold medal, holding a 12-point lead ahead of tomorrow's Medal Race

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

British sailor Ben Ainslie is in pole position to win his third consecutive Olympic gold medal going into the first Medal Race to ever be held at the Olympic Games.
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) won silver in Atlanta, followed by gold in Sydney, both in the Laser dinghy, before switching to the heavier Finn and winning gold once again in Athens. In Saturday's Medal Race he starts as favourite to defend his Olympic crown, holding the 12-point overall lead ahead the surprise star of the Finn fleet, Zach RAILEY of the USA.

Two-thirds of the gold medal winning team from Great Britain also sit on top of the leaderboard going into the Yngling Medal Race. Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB won gold four years ago together with Shirley ROBERTSON, but are competing in Qingdao with new a new crew member Pippa WILSON. They hold the overall lead in the Yngling keelboat fleet although the scores are much closer with the Dutch team of Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Merel WITTEVEEN just a single point behind. With points doubled for the Medal Race and the third-place Greek boat a long way behind, the boats from Great Britain and the Netherlands will go head to head in a battle for the Olympic gold medal.

The Finn Medal Race is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time (05:00 UTC), with the Yngling Medal Race planned for 14:00 (06:00 UTC).

Look at your local television listing to watch the Medal Races live. Viewers in the USA can also log on the NBC's online coverage whilst those in certain European territories can watch on www.eurovisionsports.tv. In addition to the television coverage you can also get live mark-by-mark roundings, estimated overall scores and race results on the ISAF Olympic Games microsite in our Results Centre here.

The new Olympic Format, the Medal Race, where the fleet is cut down to the leading 10 boats and the points scores are doubled, will be used to decided the winners in the Heavyweight Dinghy - Finn and Women's Keelboat - Yngling events at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center on Saturday. The races will be held just in front of the spectator breakwater at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center on a short 30-minute course with Jury boats to officiate the action. The competitors carry their overall scores from the Opening Series of races through to the Medal Race and the medals will be decided by combining the Opening Series score with a boat's Medal Race score. The Medal Races for both the Finn and Yngling events will be broadcast live and will be followed straight away by the medal ceremonies, held on a specially constructed platform inside the marina.

Göran PETERSSON, the President of ISAF, says the new Medal Race format will bring sailing to a wider audience than ever before, "ISAF introduced the Medal Race to create a showcase finale to the sailing competition at the Olympic Games. After the Opening Series, where all the competitors battle over a number of races, the athletes in the top ten boats who qualify for the Medal Race will face a new set of challenges with a shorter course, fewer competitors, points scores doubled and of course, the pressure of knowing their Olympic dream is within reach."

The remaining nine Olympic sailing events will continue with the races of their Opening Series. In total, 28 races are scheduled tomorrow across the five race course areas of Fushan Bay. The remaining nine Medal Races of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition are scheduled from 17-21 August.

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