- 18 Aug 08, 08:18 AM
Double gold in the sailing on Sunday... what a memorable day.
And what a difference a day makes. The weather here in Qingdao goes from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Poor old Ben Ainslie had two starts called off within a minute of the horn and then, when they finally got under way, they scrapped the race at the halfway point while he was in pole position for gold.
That was in just 1.5 knots of wind, by the way.
The Yngling girls had already gone in at that point, knowing their race would inevitably have to wait until Sunday.
Cue the next morning - 25-knot winds, a two-metre swell and driving rain. Seasoned hacks tell me they have never seen such weather on an Olympic course.
It did not bother the girls, though, did it? The maths was simple - beat the Dutch and win the gold.
As double world champions, European champions and winners of the test event here in Qingdao, the confidence and intent were there from the start.
All through the regatta the girls - the "Three Blondes in a Boat Mark II" - had been slow starters, picking off other crews towards the end of races.
But there was no such tactic on medal day. They took it to the Dutch with an aggressive start and never looked back.
It was such a great moment when they crossed the line. As with so many Olympic champions they celebrated together as a team but each has their own great story to tell.
Sarah Webb had to overcome her knee injury after the gold in Athens, Sarah Ayton had to seek out new sponsors... and then there was that phone call to Pippa Wilson.
The 22-year-old was going well in the 470 class and had an offer to go to Bristol University. But up pop the two Sarahs to suggest a trial with them and the rest is history.
So, four years after sitting at home watching them win gold with Shirley Robertson, Wilson was alongside them as a champion in her own right.
It was so exciting interviewing them out on the water. To get in that close to such a wonderful moment is something no reporter should take for granted. I could see the sheer elation in their eyes before I even asked the first question.
There was big talk about a party at Qingdao's legendary night club "New York", but when I saw their coach Paul Brotherton later on Sunday night, he said the girls were so tired that the knees-up would have to wait. They had earned the rest.
And so to Big Ben! Was it ever in doubt? Only the weather could have spoilt the party. The total contrast in the conditions added to the surreal experience.
Saturday's delay left us dangling our feet in the sea, begging for shade. The next day saw all our crew in full waterproofs, soaked to the bone, with rain so hard we could not even see the committee boat from a hundred yards away.
It was so bad we had to head back into shore but 30 minutes later we headed back out and it proved to be third time lucky. For the weather and for Ben.
This time there were different tactic from the boy Ainslie.
Whereas on Saturday he played cat and mouse with the American Zach Railey and had them both way off the back of the pace in ninth and 10th (but still good enough for Ben to claim gold) on Sunday Ben decided to finish with a flourish.
He went straight to the front with a typical display of dominance, but although he makes it look so easy the significance of his achievement cannot be underestimated.
To be selected to represent your country at four successive Olympiads is a great marker in its own right.
But when you think how easy it is for injuries, illness and bad luck to infiltrate a campaign, to medal at all of those games is absolutely incredible.
He is now officially the greatest Olympic sailor in British history - before Qingdao it was an honour he shared with the legendary Rodney Pattison, who won double gold and a silver in the 1960's and 70's.
I saw Ben just before he went up for the medal presentation. Typically modest as always, he had on the whitest tracksuit I have ever seen.
Having lashed it down for most of the day, everyone was looking a bit bedraggled. Not big Ben. He must have been saving that tracksuit for just that moment - it looked like it had only just come out of the packet.
All around the boatyard, you could feel the respect for the man and his achievements. Every nation wants a Ben Ainslie on their team. But we have got him. And we should keep him.
Four golds and silver? Or is that just us being greedy?
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