Britain’s triple Olympic gold medallist, sailor Ben Ainslie received a CBE today from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, for his services to sport.
Ainslie sailed into the record books at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by winning his third successive gold medal, adding to his silver medal from Atlanta in 1996 when he was still only eighteen years old. The four medals entitle Ben to the status of Britain’s greatest ever Olympic sailor, but also Britain’s most successful solo Olympian, having won four successive medals in an individual discipline.
Being made a Commander of the British Empire tops a year of honours for the 32-year-old. The awards include being named ISAF World Sailor of the Year for an unprecedented third time.
“I’m honoured to become Commander of the British Empire, it’s an extremely proud moment,” said Ainslie.
“When you’re out on the water competing in the Olympics, you’re racing for yourself, but a part of you is also doing it for your country, so it’s fitting to be recognised in this way.”
“Receiving the CBE from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is also great for my family who have supported me throughout my career.”
The Beijing Olympics was Britain’s most successful Olympic sailing event ever, winning six medals in total; four golds, one silver and one bronze. “The Olympics is always a real team effort, particularly in Beijing where the whole sailing team performed so well,” Ainslie continued.
“It’s fantastic that other sailors have also been honoured, it’s also good to see some of the coaches and support staff gaining recognition for their commitment and support.
“Over the next couple of years I will be concentrating on competing in the World Match Racing Tour and looking to get back in the Finn to concentrate on the Olympic circuit in order to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.”
Royal Yachting Association CEO Rod Carr, who was sailing’s Olympic Team Manager at the Atlanta 1996 Games, where Ainslie made his first Olympic podium appearance, commented: “Ben is quite simply the most gifted small boat racer of the modern era – an incredible talent.
“He shows unrivalled skill, aggression and determination when out on the water but when on land he’s a modest and affable guy who is a wonderful role model for our sport. This recognition is richly deserved.”
Ainslie will be competing in the annual JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race on Saturday 20 June, sailing against 1700 other boats and 16000 competitors