Home / World News / Tokyo Olympics: Sailors Mat Belcher and Will Ryan blitz field to win gold in the 470 class

Tokyo Olympics: Sailors Mat Belcher and Will Ryan blitz field to win gold in the 470 class

Sailors Will Ryan and Mat Belcher have secured Australia’s 15th gold medal at the Tokyo Games, winning the 470 class medal race this afternoon.

The pair needed only to finish the final event and avoid disqualification to seal their fate, having established an insurmountable lead during the week.

But Ryan and Belcher went one better, blitzing the field again to finish first in 26 minutes and 34 seconds.

“We just couldn’t help ourselves,” Belcher laughed when jokingly asked by Channel Seven’s Nathan Templeton why the pair sought to win the medal race instead of relaxing, as promised during an earlier interview.

“We were really conservative at the start, just didn’t want to be over, and we sort of had a bit of a sniff.

“We thought ‘let’s just go for it’ and it was just such an amazing feeling.”

The triumph secured Belcher his second Olympic gold medal, having won the 470 class in London with Malcolm Page.

Belcher and Ryan also claimed silver in the 470 class in Rio, making them the most successful pairing in Australian Olympic history.

“I’m just so proud,” Belcher said. “Australia’s had such great success in sailing.

“I’m just over the moon. Just so happy to have the opportunity and just to perform how we knew we could with everything else that’s been happening in the last few years. I’m so relieved that we’re able to get this medal.”

Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (60 points) took out silver, while Spain’s Jordi Xammar and Nicolas Rodriguez Garcia-Paz (69) claimed bronze.

A cursory glance at the way points are allocated paints the picture of Ryan and Belcher’s dominance.

The sailors receive points based on where they finish each race — one point for first, two for second, etc — with the lowest score from a pair’s 10 preliminary races scratched from the scorecard.

In the medal race, points are doubled, and the boat with the lowest cumulative after all 11 events wins gold.

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Ryan and Belcher accrued just 31 points and finished no lower than eighth (scratched) in a field of 19 competitors.

Sweden and Spain performed admirably but never looked like mowing down the Aussies.

WA’s Matt Wearn experienced a similar fate when he banked gold in race 10 of the men’s laser class before formalising the achievement the following day.

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