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Great Britain sail away with Olympic gold medals in Finn and men’s 49er

·3-min read

Great Britain won two gold medals in sailing in the space of an hour as Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell claimed the narrowest of victories in the 49er before Giles Scott successfully defended his Finn title.

The 34-year-old’s victory means Britain have claimed six successive titles in the Finn dating back to Iain Percy’s success in Sydney 21 years ago. Ben Ainslie then won three consecutive titles before Scott clinched his first gold in Rio.

He had a nine-point lead going into the final medal race but had to play catch-up after a poor start and crossed the line in fourth, which was enough to keep him ahead of Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz in silver.

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Fletcher and Bithell went into the final medal race, where double points are awarded, in second, four points behind New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, but the narrowest of victories for them and third for New Zealand saw the British pair claim the title.

Fletcher and Bithell’s biggest obstacle turned out to be Germany but, having taken the final turn in second, the British pair just edged over the finish line in front.

Fletcher said: “I think it’s been super close all week in racing and today showed off what it’s been like. It was an intense race but it’s mind-blowing to be sat here now being Olympic champions.”

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On the race to the line with the German boat, the 33-year-old added: “I thought we had it to be honest but I knew it was super touch and go.

“The other guys had right of way over us so we had to be careful to not get a penalty and time everything just right but Stu did an incredible job of making the boat go fast and we just nicked it at the end.”

It is a first Olympic medal for Fletcher, who finished sixth with Alain Sign in the same class in Rio, while Bithell also took silver in the 470 class alongside Luke Patience at London 2012.

Bithell missed out to Fletcher and Sign for Rio, and the pair were rivals before deciding to team up in a bid to qualify for Tokyo.

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The decision brought immediate dividends as they won European and world titles, and now the biggest prize of all.

The medal race was postponed from Monday, when a lack of wind forced racing to be cancelled for the day, and it was nip and tuck throughout a hugely exciting contest.

Fletcher’s fiancee, Charlotte Dobson, and her crewmate Saskia Tidey missed out on a podium place in the women’s 49er FX earlier, coming seventh in the medal race and sixth overall.

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