Ainslie shrugs off doubts over form

First published in Sport

THREE-TIME Olympic champion Ben Ainslie has laughed off “amusing” question marks over his form heading into the London 2012 Games this summer.

Ainslie suffered defeat in the recent Sail for Gold regatta as Portland’s Giles Scott – who missed out on an Olympic place to Ainslie – beat him in the Finn class earlier this month.

That prompted exaggerated concern about his prospects for this summer’s showpiece despite the 35-year-old having won the World Championships just two weeks before.

But Ainslie, who suffered from illness and a capsized boat as he lost to Scott in Weymouth & Portland, has no concerns about his level of performance.

He said: “For everyone racing in the Olympics, the Sail for Gold was really a warm-up regatta.

“We had the World Champion-ships two weeks previously and then obviously the Olympics coming up, so to peak for three big events was always going to be tough.

“I wasn’t really surprised at the result. It’s great for Giles, he sailed really well and it’s good for him to prove how good he is. For me, in the build-up to the Olympics, it’s great to have him as a training partner.

“But the result for me really has no significance. It was really just a case of an opportunity to be out there racing on the Olympic courses.”

Much was made of the failure to win the Sail for Gold regatta but Ainslie is happy to ignore the furore.

The four-time Olympian added: “It’s quite amusing. I mean, two weeks previously I won the World Championships and everybody said it was easy.

“Then Giles won the Sail for Gold regatta and suddenly, in two weeks, I’m in everyone else’s eyes under-performing.

“I think it’s just something you have to deal with if you’re towards the top of any sport. The pressure for the Olympics will be greater than ever and as I say, that’s just something you have to deal with.

“You notice those expectation levels a lot more because we’re at home.

“Previously we have been abroad and you don’t quite get the feeling of anticipation and expectation but we are experiencing it now being at home, which is fantastic.

“But at the same time we have to rise to that level of expectation and get a result.”

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