Tokyo Olympics: GB’s Giles Scott wins Finn class, gold in men’s 49er & silver in mixed Nacra 17

Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
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Great Britain won two golds and a silver as Giles Scott successfully defended his Finn title on a thrilling day in sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell won the men’s 49er before Scott’s triumph, while John Gimson and Anna Burnet secured silver in the mixed Nacra 17 class.

Requiring a top-five finish in the medal race, a late charge from Scott, 34, saw him snatch fourth to clinch his second gold.

And in an equally breathless finish, Fletcher, 31, and Bithell, 34, edged victory from Germany in their medal race to overhaul New Zealand for gold.

“It was pretty stressful but amazing,” said Fletcher. “Sometimes the gold medal is won on a fine margin, so hopefully it was a great race for the fans.”

Gimson, 38, and Burnet, 28, were guaranteed a medal and ensured they stayed second by claiming a fifth-placed finish in their medal race.

That took GB to 13 golds for the Games and four sailing medals after Emma Wilson’s bronze in windsurfing.

Golden repeat for Scott

Scott went into the Finn medal race guaranteed a top-three spot, holding a commanding lead after winning six of the 10 races in the opening series.

With Zsombor Berecz several boats ahead of Scott for much of the decider, the Hungarian sailor was set to claim gold.

And although Berecz won the race, Scott did enough to climb up the field from sixth to fourth to leave the Hungarian with silver, while Spain’s Juan Cardona Mendez claimed bronze.

“I made it by the skin of my teeth,” said Scott. “It was properly to the wire. I tried to stay relaxed but I’ve never been involved in a boat race as close as that.”

The Finn is the longest-serving Olympic class having debuted in 1952, with British sailors having won the last six titles going back to Sydney 2000 – Scott (two), Sir Ben Ainslie (three) and Iain Percy (one).

But the class will be dropped from the sailing line-up from Paris 2024 and Scott has said these Games are likely to be his last.

GB overcome six-time world champions

In the men’s 49er, GB held off Germany at the line, with New Zealand’s world and Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke unable to protect their four-point lead going into the race.

The New Zealand pair crossed in third and had to settle for silver, while second was good enough for Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel to take bronze.

It was a remarkable result for Fletcher and Bithell, finishing ahead of a Kiwi duo who had won six World Championships together and were both on the last two America’s Cup-winning teams.

The Britons led for most of the medal race and even though Burling and Tuke briefly moved into second, which would have secured them gold, the Germans fought back before being held off by Fletcher and Bithel in a thrilling charge for the finish.

“It does mean more beating them (Burling and Tuke),” said Fletcher. “As you’ve seen this week, everyone has caught them up and it’s been super tight.

“As soon as we crossed the line, it was a double check of ‘that was definitely us, yeah?’ Today showcased why our sport is so great. To have a super tight race and a finish like that is exciting for me.”

Bithell won silver with Luke Patience in the 470 class at London 2012 but missed out on selection for Rio 2016, where Fletcher finished sixth in the 49er class with Alain Sign.

GB’s mixed Nacra 17 silver was more straightforward, with Italy staying well placed behind Gimson and Burnet to ensure the British pair, the 2020 world champions, did not do enough to wipe out their advantage. Germany stayed third overall to take the bronze.

Gimson is competing in his first Olympics at 38, after seeing his then class dropped following Beijing 2008 (Tornado) and London 2012 (Star).

“The second time I’d sold my house and had literally no money,” he said. “At that point I was questioning my life decisions but it was all worth it.”

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