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Tokyo2020: Kiwis miss Bronze medal by a single place

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 5 Aug 02:45 NZST 5 August 2021
Final leg - Mens 470 Medal Race - Tokyo2020 - Day 10 - August 4, , Enoshima, Japan © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com / nz

Finishing fourth at an Olympics Games is one of the hardest things for any competitor and Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox were hurting after missing out on a medal by the narrowest of margins today, but they will also look back on their regatta with immense pride.

The pair came into today's top-10, double-points medal race needing to finish with two boats between them and the Spanish. They fought, they clawed, they jabbed and they scrapped but ultimately ended up third in the race and Spain fifth, meaning they were an agonising two points short of claiming New Zealand's second sailing medal at these Olympics.

Heightening the emotions was the fact it was probably the last time Snow-Hansen and Willcox sail together in a 470 after nine years as a partnership. It was an end of an era for the pair and an end of an era for the class given the 470 will become a mixed event for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"We were working pretty hard in that race so I wasn’t sure if I was feeling emotional or was just light-headed from lack of oxygen," Snow-Hansen said before Willcox chipped in: "I was feeling pretty light-headed just from being cooked.

"We went out swinging. We’re really proud of the way we fought in that medal race but it’s obviously a bitter pill to swallow not quite getting across the line.

"It will probably be one of those ones that festers away and sinks in over time. I’m sure it will be a bitter pill for us to swallow for a while but over the nine years we have racked up some highlight results and will reflect back on those highlights with pride."

They should.

Earlier this year they won the 470 European championships against the Olympic fleet and they also finished second at a world championships and won a World Cup event.

They came into these Games with high ambitions and had clearly found a click of speed across a range of conditions off the back of the hard work they had been doing back in New Zealand with training partners Simon Cooke and Andre Van Dam over the last 18 months.

Australia were a class above in winning gold, but there was little between the next three - Sweden, Spain and New Zealand - and it was a shame one had to miss out on a spot on the podium.

Much to the Kiwi pair's chagrin, the onshore wind blowing down Sagami Bay today probably wasn't light enough or fickle enough for them to really spice things up as the top four sailed to the front of the fleet for most of the medal race.

"In that sort of stuff it’s quite hard to get the chaotic situations where you can pop out with quite big points between the boats," Snow-Hansen said. "Hats off to some of these guys who sailed a solid regatta. It was close but no cigar."

It means the New Zealand sailing team conclude the Olympic regatta with the silver medal won by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er yesterday, a couple of near misses with both the men's 470 and Josh Junior in the Finn and the other three boats finishing in the top 12.

The Paris Olympics don't seem that far off, given these Tokyo Games were delayed by a year, but for now the team will reflect on and celebrate what they have achieved.

Results and standings after the final day of the Olympic sailing regatta in Enoshima:

Men's 470 (19 boats)

1st: Matt Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2 5 1 1 4 3 2 1 2 (8) 2 - 23 pts 2nd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) 1 (15) 8 5 6 11 1 5 3 1 4 - 45 pts 3rd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Garcia-Paz (ESP) 10 1 10 6 (14) 1 3 2 5 7 10 - 55 pts

4th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 6 2 7 7 5 7 (13) 8 6 3 6 - 57 pts

Women's 470 (21 boats)

1st: Hannah Mills / Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) 4 3 (7) 1 3 3 1 3 (9) 3 10 - 38 pts 2nd: Agnieszka Skrzypulec / Jolanta Ogar (POL) 1 1 2 5 13 1 5 4(15) 15 8 - 54 pts 3rd: Camille Lecointre / Aloise Retornaz (FRA) 3 2 4 7 1 (12) 6 5 10 4 12 - 54 pts

For full results click here

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