Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie's Lymington bus parade

Ainslie is an honorary life member of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club

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Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been honoured with an open-top bus parade through the town of Lymington.

The 35-year-old sailor won his fourth gold medal at the London 2012 sailing events, which were hosted by Weymouth and Portland in Dorset.

Ainslie has lived in the Hampshire coastal town for 12 years and is an honorary life member of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

The parade started at 17:15 BST from Lymington Hospital's car park.

'An inspiration'

The bus passed a postbox on the town's High Street which, without authorisation, was painted gold in his honour by resident Rob Smith - an act described as "vandalism", by Royal Mail.

Ainslie said: "The support I have received from the people of Lymington over the years has been nothing short of amazing."

He added the bus tour was "a great way to show my appreciation".

Mayor of Lymington, Councillor Jacqui England, described Ainslie as "an inspiration".

She said: "The council has already discussed offering Ben the Freedom of Lymington and we hope he will accept."

Royal Mail honoured British gold medallists during the Olympic and Paralympic Games by painting postboxes gold in their hometowns.

Mr Smith had been prompted to act after the Royal Mail only chose to paint a postbox in Cornwall, where Ainslie grew up.

He was initially arrested, but Hampshire police have since confirmed no further action will be taken against him.

Ainslie also won a silver medal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

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