Morrison and Rhodes offered advice by triple Olympic Champion

PUBLISHED: 14:04 21 June 2011

Morrison and Rhodes in action at Weymouth

Morrison and Rhodes in action at Weymouth

Mike Rice/Fotoboat

THREE-TIME Olympic champion Ben Ainslie believes Ben Rhodes and Stevie Morrison still have a fight on their hands to secure the one 49er class spot

at London 2012, writes David Jordan.

However, he warned the Exmouth duo to take their eyes of their international rivals at their peril. Ainslie took a major step closer to securing his place at London 2012 with a hard-fought victory at the Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth last week and in doing so also cemented his place at August’s Olympic test event where he will be joined by Rhodes and Morrison.

The Exmouth pair bagged bronze on the London 2012 waters last week, finishing as the top Brit to seal the solitary home spot at the Olympic test

event in the 49er class.

Domestic competition in that class is fierce to say the least with six British boats finishing in the top 11 in Weymouth.

And, while Rhodes and Morrison have stolen an early march, Ainslie, who had to see off defending champion Giles Scott and world champion Ed Wright in

the Finn class to win in Weymouth last week, believes the Olympic selection for the British squad is far from settled yet.

But he warned Beijing Olympians Rhodes and Morrison against the dangers of focusing to much on their British rivals and losing ground in the race to

the London 2012 podium.

“It has always been the case that the 49er is the toughest boat to qualify because the competition is so fierce in this country,” said Ainslie.

“Certainly it looks like going right down to the wire again and the strength of the competition means that whichever boat gets in they will be well

placed to compete for a medal. At the same time there is a balance that needs to be struck though because you can’t afford to lose sight of your overall goal of qualifying for the Olympics and being successful there. You can’t afford to become distracted by the competition, you need to make sure you concentrate on doing what you need to do. The decision is going to go right down to the wire and the guys need to keep performing right to the end so it is going to be very interesting.”

Meanwhile, during the Sail for Gold Regatta, London 2012 chairman Seb Coe visited the Weymouth venue, suggesting that in sailing, perhaps more than

most sports, Britain should be making home advantage count.

Great Britain claimed six sailing medals at the Beijing 2008 to the medals table and while Coe’s comments would appear to heap on the pressure, Ainslie

insists he and his teammates can handle it.: “I don’t think sailing the Olympics at Weymouth will make any great difference to the squad because we are a group who are used to pressure,”added Ainslie. “British sailing has been going really well and we are used to being successful as a team so there will be no change in the expectations we have on ourselves. The squad are in great shape as the results last week showed, we had a good number of podium places in what is probably a more competitive event that the Olympics with the number of boats entered. The Olympics will bring their own pressures and a home Olympics will bring other pressures but British sailing is used to expectation because of the success we have had previously.”

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the 4th largest participation sporting event in the UK. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it is dubbed ‘Britain’s favourite yacht race’, attracting over 1,800 yachts and 16,000 competitors.

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