Canada's Paul TINGLEY claimed the 2.4 Metre gold medal at the Paralympic Sailing Competition in fine style on Saturday afternoon by winning the final race of the series to secure overall victory.
(CAN) won gold ahead of Athens 2004 gold medallist and now Beijing silver medallist Damien SEGUIN
(FRA). John RUF
(USA), finished race 10 in fourth place to secure the bronze medal.
Any of the top seven going into Saturday's final races nine and ten could have claimed medals; such was the closeness of the competition, including in the final two races in which the top places changed throughout the race. Conditions were ideal 8-12 knot winds on lumpy seas that had all competitors concentrating and chasing waves to surf down on the runs.
Onlookers on Fushan Bay cheered the top three in race ten over the line, as they finished abreast of each other and it was difficult to see just who had won.
The Canadian cheer squad went wild when TINGLEY crossed the finish line, as did he, leaving no doubt as to who had won gold, while SEGUIN fought back with a win in race nine and his second in race ten to snag silver after suffering a difficult day mid-series.
Such was his excitement, TINGLEY commented on coming ashore: "First I want to say I love China and I love sailing in Qingdao! I am in shock - I've never won anything this big before." However, he did win bronze as a crew of the Paralympic Sonar team at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.
The Canadian commented on his gold medal winning performance in race ten: "I knew whoever won the last race was probably going to win the regatta. I had to make a hard choice in the last race whether to go left or right. I chose right and thankfully the wind filled in on that side."
RUF, who appeared to be TINGLEY'S main challenger throughout the series, trailed the three over the line in race ten, disappointed the gold had slipped from his grasp after scoring a pair of fourth places, but knowing he had given his best in the extremely high-calibre fleet.
However, silver medallist SEGUIN was thrilled with his comeback: "I am really happy about finally coming out as the silver medallist because I dove down too deep in some of my previous races. I was a bit unlucky in the middle part of the series because the wind was light and shifty and I dropped from lead positions, but today I was lucky," he enthused.
Big names filled the next three places too: Heiko KRÖGER (GER), the Sydney 2000 Paralympic gold medallist, Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) the Athens bronze medallist, and Sydney 2000 silver medallist Jens Als ANDERSEN (DEN) finishing fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in what was an enthralling series from start to end.
Results - click here
ISAF Paralympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/paralympics