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Arise Sir Ben! British Olympic Sailor Knighted in New Year Honours

29th December 2012
Arise Sir Ben! British Olympic Sailor Knighted in New Year Honours

#Honours - British Olympic sailing hero Ben Ainslie has finished out his record-breaking year with a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.

The most decorated Olympic sailor of all time claimed his fourth straight gold – and fifth Olympic medal in total – on the waters of Weymouth and Portland this summer in what was a fitting curtain call to a stellar 16-year Olympic career.

“This is an incredible honour,” the 35-year-old Ainslie told the Royal Yachting Association.  “When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.

“I couldn't have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment.”

Last month Ainslie announced his retirement from Olympic sailing in order to focus on his America’s Cup ambitions. His announcement came just weeks after he was named the male winner of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award at the Mansion House in Dublin.

In other honours, David ‘Sid’ Howlett - who coached Ben Ainslie to his record-breaking fourth Olympic gold and sixth Finn World Championship title this summer - was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to British sailing since 1988.

And Helena Lucas, who became the first Paralympic gold medallist for sailing as the only female among an otherwise all-male fleet in the 2.4mR class, was also awarded an MBE.

“It's a real honour and a fantastic end to an amazing year!” she said. “It was totally unexpected as there have been so many outstanding sporting achievements this year!”     

Beyond the Olympics and Paralympics, there was also recognition for Malcolm Torry, who was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to sailing and to people with disabilities for his work through Carsington Sailability in Derbyshire.   

RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder commented: “We are all absolutely thrilled for sailing’s award recipients, who have all made major contributions either to the RYA community, or the sport of sailing and its successes on the world stage across so many years.

“They are such great ambassadors for our sport, and we’re delighted and so proud that their hard work and achievements have been recognised after the sporting success story that 2012 has been for the country.”   

Published in Olympics 2012
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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