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ben ainslie Britain’smost

successfulOlympic sailor of all time!

Our reporter Michael Rogers asked Ben Ainslie what motivates him to be the best.


Ben Ainslie is Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor of all time! Winning silver in his first and gold at the last three Olympic Games he’s competed in. Ben is now committed to competing in home waters at the 2012 London Olympics.

His career in sailing began at the age of 8 with his family in Restronguet, Cornwall. Ben’s father Roddy was a proficient sailor who had skippered ‘Second Life’ in the first Whitbread Round the World Race of 1973-74. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a way of life, and by the age of 16 Ben was already Laser Radial World Champion. With the help and continuous support of both his parents, at just 19 years old Ben won his first Olympic medal - silver in the Laser class at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Four years later, again sailing the Laser, he achieved every athlete’s dream of Olympic gold at the Sydney Olympics.

What would it mean to you to win a medal at the Olympics in Weymouth in front of a home crowd? Are you glad that London won the bid?

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for every athlete competing, I think that goes not just with the competitors but anyone in the UK who can get into London and experience the atmosphere of the games. There are certain added pressures with competing at home, but you know with the Olympics there are always those intense pressures from the competitive side and that’s just something you have to deal with. It does feel different this time around knowing that I will be taking part in an Olympics in front of a home crowd which is obviously something I haven’t experienced before. I’m not sure I can describe the feeling I will get when I step foot in my boat in front of the people in Weymouth – I think it will be one of those moments I will remember for a very long time!

If you win a gold you will become the most successful sailor in Olympic history with 4 gold medal and 1 silver. What are your thoughts on that?

It would be a great honour and something that’s quite hard to consider at the moment. Paul Elvstrøm holds the record and he’s a hero for all Olympic sailors for all that he achieved so it would certainly be a great honour and achievement to come close to his record.

18 Life Begins

How did it feel to be awarded an MBE, then an OBE, and then a CBE? What was it like?

When you're at the Olympics as well as competing for yourself and Team GB you also feel like you're representing Queen and country so it's fitting and a great honour to be recognised in that way. The day is often a great day for the family as you can invite them as guests, my family have supported me throughout my Olympic career so it’s great to be able to share days like that with them.

Did you ever think that your career had peaked in the Olympics of 96, 00, or 04?

I’m lucky that an Olympic sailing career has longevity – I always plan to go into other sailing straight after the games, for instance I took 2 & half years out of the Finn after Beijing sailing for Team Origins America’s Cup campaign– this keeps me fresh when I return. It’s all about the hunger to compete and luckily that’s always been there.

As Britain’s most successful sailor in Olympic history, are you feeling the pressure to beat your previous achievements when you compete at London 2012?

Whenever there is a competition there is an element of pressure - that is part and parcel of sailing and of sport. I feel really privileged to have been given the chance to compete on four previous

Ben Ainslie sailing at the Arenal training camp regatta, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

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