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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2007, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Olympic dream over for Robertson
Shirley Robertson (centre) celebrates Olympic success in 2004
Shirley Robertson (centre) celebrates Olympic success in 2004
Shirley Robertson has been left out of Great Britain's sailing team for the Beijing Olympics, shattering her dreams of winning a third straight gold medal.

Selectors have instead given the Yngling spot to Sarah Ayton and her crew of Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson.

Robertson, who won gold with Ayton and Webb in Athens, is far from happy.

"I felt the team got cut off in its prime," said the 39-year-old Scot. "We had a lot more to give and we didn't get the respect we had earned."

She also insisted she was not bitter at losing out to her former crew members, who, when they were a trio, earned the nickname 'Three Blondes in a Boat'.

Lots of people will view this as my retirement... however, sailing is one of the few sports that reward's age and experience

Shirley Robertson

"I wish them well. The only disappointment would be if they don't bring the gold medal back," said Robertson, who split with Ayton and Webb after the 2004 Olympics to pursue her own projects and start a family.

Ben Ainslie, another double Olympic champion, has yet to secure his place at next year's Games either.

Selectors have deferred naming a participant in the Finn class after Ainslie was appointed skipper of Britain's challenge for the 2009 America's Cup.

606: DEBATE
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Team bosses want to know whether the 30-year-old's preparations for next year's Games will be compromised by his involvement in the competition.

However, it would be a surprise if Ainslie, who won gold in the Laser class in 2000 before switching to the Finn for the 2004 Games, was not chosen.

The decision to omit Robertson and her crew of Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor, who only came together last November, comes as no great shock.

They finished third at the World Championships in July but were behind Ayton, Webb and Wilson, who won gold.

Kent-born Ayton, 27, and her crew also won August's Olympic test event in Qingdao.

Sarah Ayton (left) and Sarah Webb
Sarah Ayton (left) and Sarah Webb celebrate their gold in Qingdao

Nevertheless, Robertson feels selectors have made the wrong decision.

"People always take the easy option," she said, adding that she felt her crew was making rapid progress despite their brief time together.

Robertson had hoped the Royal Yachting Association would hold off their decision until after the next World Championships, which take place in January.

"I was disappointed they didn't extend the trial," she said. "For us, it was just the beginning."

However, Stephen Park, the RYA's Olympic sailing manager, defended his committee's selection process

"I understand Shirley's disappointment and frustration," he said.

"Anyone who is happy when they are not selected hasn't wanted to be nominated badly enough, so clearly she is upset.

We've selected a crew that are the reigning world champions and have proven themselves at the Olympic venue

Stephen Park
RYA's Olympic sailing manager

"She's made an argument for extending the trial process but in technical boats I believe it's important that we complete the selection process early and give our sailors the best possible chance of success next year.

"We've selected a crew that are the reigning world champions and have proven themselves at the Olympic venue. Two of them are existing Olympic champions."

Robertson has hinted she could attempt to qualify for the 2012 Games in London.

"Lots of people will view this as my retirement," she said. "However, sailing is one of the few sports that rewards age and experience.

"Sailing with Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor has been one of the best experiences of my 16-year Olympic sailing career and we are left feeling like there is unfinished business.

"Who knows where my future lies, but for now I will continue to race professionally away from the Olympic circuit."

Born in Dundee but now based in the Isle of Wight, Robertson was named female sailor of the year by the International Sailing Federation in 2000.

She was also awarded an MBE in 2001 and an OBE in 2004.

Paul Goodison has, as expected, been selected for the Laser class. He is the world number one in the category and was fourth in Athens.

In the Laser Radial class, Charlotte Dobson, Penny Clark, Andrea Brewster and Lizzie Vickers are competing for one spot and will be assessed at regattas in the spring of 2008.


Great Britain team for Beijing Games:

Yngling - women's keelboat
Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson

49er - skiff
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes

Laser - men's one person dinghy
Paul Goodison

RS:X - men's windsurfer
*Nick Dempsey

RS:X - women's windsurfer
*Bryony Shaw

470 - men's two person dinghy
*Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield

470 - women's two person dinghy
*Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark

Tornado - multihull
*Leigh McMillan and Will Howden

* The following sailors have been selected by the RYA's Olympic Selection Committee and will be nominated to the British Olympic Association subject to achieving certain performance targets.



SEE ALSO
Ainslie leads Brit medal charge
22 Aug 07 |  Sailing
Ainslie hunts Finn gold in China
15 Aug 07 |  Sailing
Robertson still eyeing selection
05 Aug 07 |  Sailing
Ainslie given Beijing test boost
17 Jul 07 |  Sailing


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