Ben Ainslie exclusive
Ben Ainslie landed his place in the record books when he became the most successful sailor in Olympic history after winning a fourth straight gold medal to add to the silver he won on his Games debut in Atlanta in 1996. After his success in Weymouth, he spoke to Orange about his anger issues, how a back injury nearly saw him pull out of the competition and his dream destination after the Games.
Congratulations on the gold medal. How does it feel to be Olympic champion again?
First and foremost a relief. It was a hell of a struggle but it was great to get another gold. It's one I feel very proud of.
Is it your most hard-fought for gold bearing in mind you looked dead and buried earlier in the regatta?
It was very, very tough. Things weren't working well and I'd not found my rhythm. I was struggling quite a lot. I was worried but I never felt truly out of control. I just had to up the tempo. I did it and it was just a huge relief. So, that, the back injury and the fact it was at home made it probably the toughest. But the last one always seems the toughest, doesn't it?
How is your back. We read you had a helicopter on standby at one point to take you to hospital for an epidural?
It's not good to be honest. On the first day of competition, it wasn't good at all. I was worried. By the end of it, it seemed ok thanks to the physio but again it now needs some serious work."
How much did anger fuel that gold win? That clip of you saying 'they've made me angry and you don't want to make me angry' midway through the competition is compelling viewing.
Well, that's how I felt at the time. I didn't like the guys' tactics and I said as much. It fired me up and I maybe needed that kick. After that, I was pretty focused on what I needed to do.
If you hadn't won the gold, what do you think your reaction have been? Would silver have been a disappointment?
If I'd won silver, it would have been a major disappointment. I'm even aware it sounds crazy as silver at an Olympics is obviously something to be extremely proud of but I'd set out to win it and anything else would have been hugely disappointing.
What was it like being the flag bearer at the closing ceremony?
That was the ultimate honour for my country although I was a little bit worried how my back would hold up to such a task. It ended up being fine in the end.
Looking back at the regatta, Britain finished behind Australia in the medals table. Were you satisfied as a team or do you think you could/should have done more?
It's a tricky one as our goal was four medals and we got five. But there were four silver medals and three of them were extremely close. It was a shame that some of the others couldn't convert them but there were some young crews and those silvers are still an amazing achievement. It bodes well for Rio. I expect Giles Scott [Ainslie's rival for the sole British Finn spot at these Games] will be the favourite for gold in Rio and there's some great other sailors coming through.
If you could do anything right now post-Olympics, what would it be?
I feel like disappearing for six months and doing nothing. The British Virgin Islands would be the ideal and not because it's a tax haven. I've been very lucky to go there a few times and it's absolutely beautiful. It's a stunning location, there's beautiful reefs, it's just a very relaxed place to be. So, I'd definitely pick that one.
But judging by your tone that's not where you're off to next. What's in store for you now?
I'm off to San Francisco in a week or two to get ready for the America's Cup with Oracle. I'm looking forward to that new challenge.
Is that the one sailing honour to have eluded you and is the dream to win it for Britain one day?
Very much so. It's one of the pinnacles of sailing so I'm looking forward to it with Oracle but we're also building a potential British team. It's not easy. It takes a lot of money, backing and getting all the right people.
You're described as the best sailor of your generation but what would you like to be good at that you're not?
Languages. I speak a little bit of Spanish but not very well. I'd like to be able to master a few languages if I could.
What's your bad habit?
I'm not sure. I think it'd probably be speeding both on the water and on dry land. That's my main vice I'd say.
What's your first Olympic memory?
It was probably the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and, in particular, the 100m race which Ben Johnson won but was later disqualified for doping. I remember watching that quite clearly.
What about your first sailing memory?
That's an easy one. It was when I was eight years old and I was first allowed to sail on my own in an Optimist dinghy. I'd done some sailing before but that's the first early moment of my sailing career that sticks out. I loved that freedom from day one and I'm glad my parents gave me that.
Ben Ainslie thanks fans who cheered him to his fourth sailing gold. Each day more than 10,000 supporters have watched the action at Park Live presented by British Airways, helping give Team GB their #HomeAdvantage