x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Olympics: Spaniards overthrow fancied Australia for a 'dream' finish

Iberians defy even their own expectations to edge first-to-three series and take gold from favourites.

The victorious Spanish women celebrate.
The victorious Spanish women celebrate.

Angela Pumariega acknowledged Spain's women's sailing match racing gold had surpassed even their own expectations.

Having overcome Ekaterina Skudina's Russia in the semi-finals yesterday, the Iberians surprised favourites Australia yesterday to take the last sailing medal of the London Games.

Australia twice recovered from going behind in the best-of-five series, but skipper Tamara Echegoyen, Sofia Toro and Pumariega held their nerve to ensure Spain topped the podium.

"We are very, very happy," Pumariega said.

"It was close racing and they have won very, very often in Weymouth, so to win the gold medal is a dream. We thought it would be over all five races because Australia are a very strong team, but we knew we would win the gold medal.

"We of course surprised ourselves, though. We said before the Olympics we would try to pass the quarter-finals and as each race has went very well we said 'why not go become Olympic champion?'. It is a dream."

Things began well for the eventual gold medallists in Weymouth Bay as they won the first race, but Olivia Price, Lucinda Whitty and Nina Curtis levelled it up in the second.

However, things then went wrong for Australia in match three as skipper Price fell out of the boat, forcing crew members Whitty and Curtis to swing around to collect her, losing valuable time in the process, allowing Spain to go on and win.

Australia responded strongly yet again to level things up at 2-2, but they had to settle for silver after being forced to take a penalty turn in a tight final race, allowing Spain to go and win the first-to-three series.

Price put a brave face on having to settle for second place.

"We are really happy with the silver," she said. "We really gave it our all and the Spanish sailed really well.

"Today the conditions were quite wild and, yes, I did get thrown overboard by a wave.

"It was quite a shock to the system but we really didn't give up. We kept going the whole time and I am really proud of how we sailed.

"We came here for one goal: gold. Unfortunately we didn't reach it but we got one step under so we're still really happy."

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