DORSET sailing heroes Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell won a spectacular Olympic gold medal in the 49er men’s category – by a few inches.
Portland’s Fletcher and Bithell entered the medal race at Tokyo 2020, beating reigning New Zealand Olympic and world champions Peter Burrell and Blair Tuke by four points.
A nerve-wracking medal race boiled down to all three podiums, with Germans Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel viciously accelerating for the line.
Fletcher and Bithell led from afar, but their left line took less wind than the Germans who were handily ahead of the Kiwis third.
Knowing that a German victory in a medal race would shatter their gold hopes, Fletcher and Bithell made a “descent” pushing the bar on the opposite side of the mainsail.
This maneuver gave them enough momentum to fend off Heil and Ploessel’s charge to register Team GB’s first sailing gold medal at Tokyo 2020 – on the line.
As the British pair achieved their gold medal, Fletcher shouted “come on!” Before kissing Bithell, who adds gold to an Olympic silver medal won in London 2012.
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There was more golden news for the GB team as Giles Scott, who was previously based in Portland before moving to Cambridgeshire, retaining his Olympic title in the Finn class.
Scott’s success means that the GB team have won Finnish gold at the last six Olympic Games.