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Aussie Tom Slingsby sails to Laser Olympic gold

Monday - 8/6/2012, 12:03pm  ET

By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer

WEYMOUTH, England (AP) - A dip in the English Channel never felt so good.

Tom Slingsby of Australia won the Olympic sailing gold medal in the men's Laser class Monday by match-racing his closest competitor, Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus, to the back of the fleet.

After crossing the line in ninth place in the medals race, Slingsby, a tactician with America's Cup champion Oracle Racing, capsized his boat in celebration.

As he continued to celebrate, Slingsby tipped his boat over again, righted it, climbed back in and then waved the Australian flag at a big group of supporters watching from Nothe Fort, including his parents.

The Aussie came into the medals race leading Kontides by 14 points, leaving them the only two with a chance at the gold.

Slingsby got ahead of the Cypriot at the start and kept him pinned at the back of the fleet, making sure he couldn't break free.

Kontides took the silver, securing the first-ever Olympic medal for his small island nation.

"I feel really wonderful," Kontides said. "I guess when I have the silver medal around my neck and be back home, then all the celebrations will start, and I will really understand what I have done. It's a historic day for Cyprus sport and for myself as well. I guess I wrote my name in Cyprus sport in golden letters."

Cyprus started taking part in the modern-day Olympics in the 1980 Moscow Games.

Sweden's Rasmus Myrgren took the bronze. The equipment inspection committee filed a protest against Myrgren just before the start, but the Swede prevailed and keeps the medal.

Slingsby was unbeaten in four regattas held at Weymouth in the lead-up to the games and led this one from the start, winning four of the first 10 races.

He's the second America's Cup sailor to win gold in these games.

On Sunday, British star Ben Ainslie won the Finn class gold medal. Ainslie's four straight gold medals, combined with his silver from 1996, made him the most successful sailor in Olympic history.

Now it's off to their day jobs. The second season of the America's Cup World Series begins with a regatta in San Francisco from Aug. 21-26. Ainslie will skipper Ben Ainslie Racing. Ainslie will then join Oracle Racing for the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay next summer.

Slingsby gets a little bit of a break before reporting back to work with Oracle in September.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)