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20 August 2008, 06:19 am
YIN Delivers China's First Ever Olympic Sailing Gold
Jian Yin of China
Jian Yin of China waves her national flag as she celebrates overall victory

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

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.

After being swamped by media boats and receiving a huge ovation from the crowds as she sailed back past the breakwater back to the boat park, YIN was still in disbelief, "Is this real? Is this real? Did I really win gold?"

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. she exclaimed. Aged 29 YIN is one of the most experienced members of China's sailing team and has had to fight off a series of challenges from younger up and coming windsurfers to make the selection for Qingdao. She said success on her home waters was a key motivation, "For an old athlete competing in the Olympics was hard," she explained. "I've had many injuries in the past four years. I was able to persevere until now because I wanted to make China proud in the Olympic Games that China is hosting." That same determination was apparent in her performance today, "I didn't think about anything during today's race. I knew that ,if I kept passing one after another, victory would be mine," she said.

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. Reflecting on today's race she was delighted with her performance, "I had a good start today. I was glad the wind was strong on the first leg but it was a pity the wind decreased after the second leg. In the first leg I felt the gold was already in my pocket because I was first and the Chinese girl was behind. In the end I turned around on the last leg and realised that maybe Spain had given up." Overall though SENSINI was pleased with her fourth Olympic medal, "I'm happy with the silver medal," she said, "because it is challenging for me to sail in light wind conditions."

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.

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 on the favoured right side of the course, closely followed by SHAW, SENSINI and YIN, who had lost ground after a good start by opting to go left on the first upwind. However, YIN is the fatest in the fleet when the wind is light and she was able to make up ground on the leaders and the 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.

Overall Results - click here

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