In an unbelievable tour de force, China’s Lijia Xu won Gold in the ultra-competitive Laser Radial class, commanding a decisive lead since the first uphill leg. The Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester finished in second place overall to claim a Silver medal, while Belgium’s Evi Van Acker rounded-out the top three steps of the podium.
Lijia Xu (CHN), Laser Radial - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
Throughout the race, Lijia Xu exemplified perfect style, form, tactics, composure and athletic prowess, virtually flaunting her world-class skills. She ultimately beat Bouwmeester across the finishing line by a convincing Delta of eight seconds. Immediately crossing the finishing line, Lijia Xu took a well-earned victory lap in front of the cheering crowds assembled on the Nothe hillside, proudly waving her country’s colors, a massive grin threatening to split her face.
Interestingly, Lijia Xu benefitted from the world-class coaching skills of Weymouth based Jon Emmett (GBR). Based on today’s medal race, it was dead obvious that Lijia Xu had thoroughly done her homework ahead of time on the notoriously difficult Nothe course, catching all the right lifts and tacking on the right headers. On the final downwind run, Lijia Xu commanded a lead of some 41 meters over Bouwmeester, essentially turning the medal race into a battle for Silver and Bronze.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
Bouwmeester also sailed beautifully, aggressively rolling her Radial from gunwhale to gunwhale on the downhill legs as she played a high-stakes game of follow the leader. Interestingly, Bouwmeester’s style downwind is reminiscent of Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history. For those in the know this will come as no surprise, given Ainslie’ and Bouwmeester’s off-the-water liaison.
Evi Van Acker (BEL)
For her part, Belgium’s Evi Van Acker also sailed a spectacular race, finishing some four seconds astern of Bouwmeester, to claim a hard-won Bronze medal. As was previously reported, prior to today’s firing guns, the Laser Radial medal race was a neck-and-neck competition between the three medalists and Ireland’s Annalise Murphy. While Murphy is exceptionally quick on the uphill legs, these on-the-breeze skills were sadly not enough to earn her a step on the podium.
Please stand by for more information from this race, including quotes from the medalists and on-the-water image galleries, as they become available.