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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 10:40 GMT
Ainslie among first Olympic picks
Ben Ainslie
Ainslie will compete in his fourth Olympic Games
Double Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been named in the first draft of athletes chosen to represent Britain at this year's Beijing Games.

Fellow Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton were also amongst the nine sailors selected.

"It is fantastic to be chosen to defend my Olympic Finn title in Beijing," said Ainslie, who goes to his fourth Games.

Britain's selections for the remaining six Olympic sailing classes will be made over the next few months.

Team GB are expected to send around 300 athletes to China to contest the Games which begin on 8 August.

Simon Clegg, the British Olympic Association chief executive and 2008 Chef de Mission, said: "I am delighted to announce the first nine official members of Team GB for the Beijing Games.

"Sailing is one of our core sports, one which has medalled consistently over many years, and which claimed five medals at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

I've been racing in China for the last two summers so I have a relatively good idea of the conditions there

Ben Ainslie

"We are confident that the sailing team will make a significant contribution to Team GB's overall medal tally and wish these athletes well as they make their final preparations."

Ayton and Webb won gold in Athens in the Yngling class alongside Shirley Robertson, but the veteran Scot lost out in selection for Beijing to Ayton and her crew.

Percy, who won gold in the Finn class at the 2000 Games, and Simpson will aim to build on their world Star bronze medal on the waters of Qindao, while Morrison and Rhodes have high hopes of building on their second-place finish in the 49er world championships.

Goodison is the world number one in the Laser category and was fourth in Athens.

Ainslie, 30, was pleased to earn his spot in the British team as his America's Cup commitments have restricted his Finn racing over the last two years.

The Macclesfield-born sailor was recently named as skipper of Britain's Team Origin in the 2009 America's Cup but proved his credentials by winning six out of eight races at the Sydney International Regatta last December.

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He also won the two test regattas at the Olympic sailing venue Qingdao in 2006 and 2007.

"It was always my plan to try and come back for Beijing and I've had just enough time to get back and qualify," said Ainslie, who also claimed a silver medal in Atlanta.

"I've been racing in China for the last two summers so I have a relatively good idea of the conditions there."


Sailors selected for the British team:

Ben Ainslie (Finn class)

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson (Yngling)

Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (49er)

Paul Goodison (Laser)

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (Star)

SEE ALSO
Win boosts Ainslie's 2008 hopes
18 Dec 07 |  Sailing
Ayton beats Robertson to title
11 Jul 07 |  Sailing
Olympic dream over for Robertson
18 Sep 07 |  Sailing
Morrison & Rhodes take 49er gold
13 Jul 07 |  Sailing
Percy and Simpson secure bronze
09 Jul 07 |  Sailing
Ainslie leads Brit medal charge
22 Aug 07 |  Sailing
GB sailors dominate Games
28 Aug 04 |  Sailing


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