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Page, Belcher take 470 sailing gold
By Miles Godfrey
22:01 AEST Fri Aug 10 2012

Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher won the men's 470 dinghy gold medal on Friday, ensuring Australia will topple hosts Great Britain and finish on top of the Olympic sailing regatta medal table.

Page also cemented his place in history as Australia's most successful Olympic sailor, claiming his second gold medal.

The reigning world champions started Friday's extremely tense medal race on Weymouth Bay already assured of a silver medal and with British pair Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell the only other crew challenging for the gold.

The Britons had to finish the race two boats ahead of Page and Belcher to snatch victory.

But the Australians sailed brilliantly in the light winds and finished the race second, with Patience and Bithell fourth.

Argentina took the bronze medal.

"It's a special feeling, it's been a really tough battle all week with Luke and Stuart - they really brought their A-game," Page told the BBC.

"To come away with what we wanted was really phenomenal."

Belcher added: "It was such a hair-raising race and credit to Stuart and Luke, they've been unbelievable.

"They really stepped it up and to come down to a medal race like that decide a gold medal, that's pretty hair-raising."

The result means Page, already acknowledged as the best 470 sailor in the world, becomes the first Australian sailor to win two Olympic gold medals.

He took the men's 470 gold medal in Beijing with former crewmate Nathan Wilmot.

Page now retires from Olympic sailing and his father Don, who was watching from the Nothe Peninsula, said it was a glorious end.

"I think it's a fitting way to finish a long career in the 470s, very, very proud," he told said.

"It's the golden finish."

Australia has now won three gold medals at the Olympic regatta, with Tom Slingsby winning the Laser class and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen taking victory in the 49er skiff.

It is the nation's most successful sport at the London Games.

No Australian sailing squad has ever won three gold medals at an Olympic regatta before.

The previous best was two golds, one silver and one bronze in Sydney 2000 and two golds and one silver in Beijing 2008.

It means Australia tops the London Olympic regatta medal table, condemning Great Britain to second place in home waters after topping the sailing medal table at every Olympics since Sydney 2000.

And Australia's medal tally could rise even further in Weymouth, with the women's match racing crew competing in a semi-final battle with Finland on Friday afternoon, ahead of Saturday's final.

The Australian women's 470 crew also has an outside chance of snatching a bronze medal on Friday.

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