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17 October 2014

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Shirley Robertson wins second Olympic gold 2004

Shirley Robertson


There can be no surprise when an Olympic gold medal sparks a flurry of interest amongst press and public alike in a minority sport in our success-starved nation, but introducing a new word to Scrabble boards across the country is an unusual bonus.

Last summer very few people had heard of yngling, never mind picking up the 72 points on the Scrabble board available, until the intervention of Shirley Robertson.

Yngling simply describes the boat; a cross between a planing dinghy and a keelboat which Robertson sailed, with Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, to gold at last summer's Olympics in Athens.
The winner's medal won by the 36-year-old Clackmannanshire sailor at the Athens Olympics was doubly remarkable.

Winning her first gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 made Robertson the first Scottish woman to win an Olympic gold in an individual event, when she sailed her Europe class yacht to victory.
And winning her second gold meant she has equalled the Spaniard Theresa Zabell as the female sailors who have won most Olympics golds.

That she changed from sailing single-handedly in a Europe-class yacht to face the completely different challenge of skippering a three-man yngling, says a lot about Robertson's character. After winning her gold at the Sydney Olympics she was close to retiring because she had peaked at the sport and had no new challenge to face. Instead she simply changed her type of craft.

Ironically, earlier in her career many in the sailing community wondered if she had the right temperament to reach the very top in her sport, as her ability merited.

She mastered her new discipline in some style. With teammates Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, the British girls won their golds with a day to spare, after overcoming their closest rivals the Danes and Ukrainians.

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