Matt Belcher and his crew Will Ryan won gold in the 470 Olympic men’s sailing competition by winning the medal race. Andy Rice reports.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) won gold in the Tokyo 2020 470 Olympic Men’s Sailing Regatta, Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) taking silver and Jordi Xammar and Nico Rodriguez (ESP) bronze.
From the start, it was even between the main contenders for silver and bronze – Spain and Sweden. Both teams got off to good starts in light wind conditions, with the crews working hard to propel the boat through the waves using kinetic rebounds.
Australia had started on the port tack, slipping behind the fleet so as not to disrupt the competition for silver and bronze, but towards the top of the course Belcher and Ryan were back in contention for the lead, with New Zealand now defying Spain.
Coming from the left side of the course and arriving at the first mark just ahead, Sweden was neck and neck with Australia, Spain in third. Dahlberg and Bergstrom were on their way to the silver medal if they could keep the lead.
Australia pumped, whispered and surfed in a narrow lead around the Leeward Gate, and now the top four in the race were the top four overall: Australia, Sweden, Spain and Nova -Zeeland, front line to the last windward mark.
Belcher and Ryan won the Medal Race, their last race together, the perfect conclusion to a stellar partnership. Sweden crossed in second and won silver. The United States and New Zealand had passed Spain, but Xammar and Rodriguez clung to bronze just two points behind the Kiwis.
Mat Belcher is the all-time best sailor on 470 as he retires from the class, with today’s gold to add to his London 2012 gold and Rio 2016 silver. Australian has won eight world titles, including five with Ryan.
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