Chinese Yin Jian reacts after winning China's first ever Olympic sailing gold. Yin was crowned champion of RS:X Women at the Olympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao on Wednesday. [Song Zhenping/Xinhua]
China's Yin Jian was crowned champion of RS:X Women at the Olympic Sailing Regatta here on Wednesday, winning her country's first ever Olympic sailing gold.
It is also the first time that the host nation has ever won the Olympic sailing gold in windsurfing on home water.
Expectation hung in the air today in Qingdao with thousands of Chinese spectators packing the spectator breakwater at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center in the hope of watching history in the making.
Yin Jian didn't let them down. She used her knowledge of local water to the best effect. Despite a fourth and three fifth finishes by the first four marks, Yin Jian collected her composure and staged a magnificent comeback when the Spaniard in front of her threw in a tack.
She seized the opportunity and stormed all the way to the finishing line, placing third and gaining 39 points overall to secure the gold. She reeled in her rival to huge cheers from the breakwater.
"It's so hard to get this gold medal. It bears the expectation of all Chinese sailors. I am happy that today I accomplished the mission and make the dream come true," said the 29-year-old Yin Jian.
"I didn't think about anything during today's race. I knew that if I kept passing one after another, that victory would be mine," said Yin, adding that "I will fight to the last moment no matther which position I am in."
"For an veteran athlete like me, competing in this Olympics was hard. I've had many injuries in the past four years. I was able to persevere until now because I want to make China proud in the Olympic Games that China is hosting," she said.
Tears in eyes, Jiang Chen, Yin's coach, couldn't hide his excitement. "Today's race is a true reflection of her past 10 days' races. She had a good start but immediately fell behind in the middle and had to catch up one by one. It was difficult but, in the end, she caught up with one after each mark and entered the top three. It was not easy," he said.
"This is the sport that Europeans excel in and they are usually good at making a last push in the final race. So today, Yin relied on herself and did it well and grasped all the important opportunities," he added.
China's sailing team captain Yao Xinpei, who was thrown into water by his excited team members, said Yin Jian's success highlighted the breakthrough of China's sailing. "It showed the improvement of the overall level of Chinese sailing. Yin Jian proved that she was an all-around mature sailor with a burning desire to win. Today's medal race was really classic and it will be definitely recorded into the history of Chinese sailing," he told Xinhua.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, a small collision with another competitor in the 10th round relegated Yin to a silver medal finish, just two agonizing points shy of a gold medal.
China has already won two Olympic silver medals in windsurfing, with Zhang Xiaodong in Barcelona in 1992 and Yin Jian in Athens in 2004, plus the Laser Radial bronze won by Xu Lijia on Tuesday.
Alessandra Sensini from Italy took the silver medal with 40 points overall, which is the only color missing from this remarkable 38-year-old woman's collection of medals.
"I've been doing this for 25 years. This is my fifth Olympics. All these years, I've told myself to stop. I dropped sailing for one and half of a year after Athens, but I think I just love it and will continue to do it," she said.
Bryony Shaw from Britain claimed the bronze medal totaling 45 points.
"I think I have benefited from the experience of the British team. People like Paul Goodison and Ben Ainslie have taught me a lot," said Shaw on her first Olympic sailing experience.