September 17, 2021

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell win gold in 49er class

August 03, 2021

Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell have won gold in the 49er men’s race at the Enoshima harbour.

The British pair crossed the line in front of Germany by a distance of just centimetres to secure the gold medal and edge New Zealand into silver medal position, with Germany taking the bronze.

The duo went into the final medal race, where double points are awarded, in second, four points behind New Zealand's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, but victory for Fletcher and Bithell and third for New Zealand saw them claim the title.

Fletcher and Bithell's biggest obstacle turned out to be Germany but, having taken the final turn in second, the British pair just moved over the finish line in front.

It is the first Olympic medal for Fletcher, who finished sixth with Alain Sign in the same class in Rio, while Bithell also took silver in the 470 class alongside Luke Patience at London 2012.

Bithell missed out to Fletcher and Sign for Rio, and the pair were rivals before deciding to team up in a bid to qualify for Tokyo.

The decision brought immediate dividends as they won European and world titles, and now the biggest prize of all.

The medal race was postponed from Monday, when a lack of wind forced racing to be cancelled for the day, and it was nip and tuck throughout a hugely exciting race.

Fletcher's fiancee, Charlotte Dobson, and her crewmate Saskia Tidey missed out on a medal in the women's 49er FX earlier, coming seventh in the medal race and sixth overall.

Fletcher said: "I think it's been super close all week in racing and today showed off what it's been like. It was an intense race but it's mind-blowing to be sat here now being Olympic champions."

On the race to the line with the German boat, the 33-year-old added: "I thought we had it to be honest but I knew it was super touch and go.

"The other guys had right of way over us so we had to be careful to not get a penalty and time everything just right but Stu did an incredible job of making the boat go fast and we just nicked it at the end."

Following Fletcher and Bithell's triumph, Giles Scott defended his Finn Olympic title little more than an hour after their race, and John Gimson and Anna Burnet then picked up a silver medal in the mixed Nacra 17.

They were guaranteed a medal going into the final race and finished safely in fifth to stay in second place behind Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti.

Britain are also favourites to win a fourth sailing gold in the women's 470 on Wednesday, with Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre holding a dominant lead and already certain of a medal.

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