Sports Personality 2012: Ben Ainslie – “Celebrating with a home crowd was my defining moment”

The most successful sailor in Olympic history won his fourth consecutive Olympic gold in dramatic style at London 2012

Sports Personality nominee Ben Ainslie wowed the waiting crowds at this summer’s Olympic Games when he secured a gold medal in the Finn class race.


“To make the shortlist in a year like we’ve had is just incredible,” says the quadruple gold and silver medalist. “It’s been a great year with the Olympic success and all the other sports in which we seem to be excelling at at the moment, and hopefully we can look forward to a great period to come. To just be a part of it all and really share in the excitement is an amazing experience and a huge honour.”

“For sailing as a sport to be a part of that success is important for what is a relatively lower profile sport compared with many others. I think it’s important that it’s seen to be one of our top performing sports and hopefully through that can encourage more youngsters into the sport as many other sports are doing.”

With a grand total of four gold medals, Ben Ainslie is currently the most decorated Olympic sailor in the world. But the 35-year-old has recently announced his retirement from Olympic sailing, making his achievements this summer ever more significant.

“Celebrating in front of the home crowd was my defining moment for me, in front of 6000 people standing in the spectator area,” says the sailor. “It’s the first time we’ve ever really been ever to do that in sailing because normally we’re so far from the shore. To be able to go and celebrate winning a gold medal on home waters in front of that amazing crowd is something I’ll never forget.”

His moment: Gold in the Finn medal race, London Olympics

What the commentator said: “Ben Ainslie wins his fourth Olympic gold! He is the greatest sailing Olympian in the history of the Games!”

Who would be your Sports Personality? “It’s a very tough call, but I would say Bradley Wiggins deserves it most. Before now he’s almost been hidden in the shadows a bit behind Chris Hoy. But this was really his year.”


Sports Personality of the Year 2012 begins on Sunday at 7:30pm on BBC1