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Crowds go crazy at the Nothe when Ben Ainslie wins gold
11:30am Monday 6th August 2012 in Weymouth and Portland Sailing Olympics and Paralympics 2012 News By Catherine Bolado
RULE BRITANNIA rang out over the Nothe, thousands of flags were waved and the crowds erupted after Ben Ainslie won his fourth historic gold medal.
Thousands of people packed the hillside to watch as Ainslie powered to victory.
At one point the air went almost silent and the tension could be felt in the air as ‘Big Ben’ and the ‘Great Dane’ battled it out.
The expectation was even more noticeable after the Star medal race when in the last leg Great Britain's Andrew Simpson and Iain Percy had been beaten into silver medal position.
At one point the crowd started cheering on the New Zealand team as they seemed the only ones that could block the advance of the Dutch.
Steve Smith from Somerset said that Ainslie was his ‘all-time hero’ and had been on the edge of his seat nervously watching the medal race.
He said: “I just felt like I needed counselling when he got half way through.”
He added: “He is the greatest ever sailor and the greatest ever hero.”
Mr Smith said he hoped that Ainslie would inspire a new generation of sailing stars as he himself had been inspired by Ainslie.
Every time Ainslie’s name was mentioned on the commentary cheers, screams and shouts almost drowned it out.
Mr Smith said he had felt so upset for the Star sailors but added: “It was so nice to hear them say they could hear us cheering them on.”
Friend Simon Martin said: “Hopefully Ben will be lots of youngsters hero and inspire them.”
Dressed in a Union flag jacket Rupert Taylor from Oxford was determined to show his patriotic side.
He said: “The crowds were incredible. I honestly don't thinks there’s a country in the world that does it better than us. I felt terrified during Ben’s race. I felt there was a chance of not quite making gold.
“I’m so happy Ben came out and did what he did.”
Weymouth-born Richard Philpott said that Ainslie was a ‘fantastic fighter’.
He said: “All week he’s come from behind. He’s been dogged and he’s a true Brit.”
He added that he had come back to see Weymouth in its ‘full majesty’.
Mr Philpott said: “I’m so proud to come back and see my home town in its glory.
“I’m immensely proud – it’s just beautiful.”
Ainslie lit a red flare and received a standing ovation complete with singing of Rule Britannia as he stood in front of the home crowd.
The crowd cheered when he thanked them for their support all week.