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Brits capture Star for fourth sailing gold; Spain wins Tornado

Qingdao, China (Sports Network) - The British team of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson won the gold medal in the Star class on the final day of sailing competition at the 2008 Olympics.

The duo finished in fifth place in the medal race, but easily held on to win gold. The Brazilian team of Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada and the Swedish tandem of Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom both finished with 53 points, but the Swedes were pushed to the bronze medal because of a 10th place finish in the medal race.

Loof and Ekstrom started the day in first place by two points, but because the medal race counts for double points they were pushed back to third in the blustery conditions.

It was the fourth sailing gold for the Brits at these Games and the sixth overall medal for the country, topping the sailing chart.

"It was really difficult British conditions today," said Percy. "Everything was changing. Boat places were switched rapidly and we went from left to right. We just had to keep our eyes on the main guys and just fight, fight, fight."

John Dane III and his son-in-law Austin Sperry of the U.S. finished in 11th place. Dane is the oldest member of the U.S. Olympic team at 58.

Spain's Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz won the Tornado class by finishing fourth in Thursday's medal race. The duo ended five points ahead of the Australian team of Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby, while Argentines Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola earned the bronze.

"After 10 years of training, we finally got our first Olympic medal," said Echavarri. "We feel like we're the luckiest ones here. We've been performing very well together as a team. We've been winning championships and regattas, but this is the most important win of them all."

The Aussies lost whatever chance they had at the gold when they messed up at the starting and then broke their mast swivel.

The American team of Johnny Lovell and Charlie Ogletree were in last place in the Tornado.

In other news, the Olympic Committees of Spain and Italy filed protests before the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the 49er sailing gold won by the Danish team of Jonas Warrer and Martin Kirketerp Ibsen earlier at these Games.

The gold medal race took place on Sunday, but the results were held up a day due to other protests from competitors and race officials.

Spain's Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez earned the silver medal, and German brothers Jan-Peter and Hannes Peckolt captured the bronze.

Warrer and Ibsen were holding an 11-point lead on Italian brothers Pietro Sibello and Gianfranco Sibello going into the medal race Sunday. The mast for the Danes broke, but Croatia lent them their boat. Then several boats turned over before the finish line amidst rough seas and Spain won the medal race.

Warrer and Ibsen finished seventh, but the results were protested by the race committee.

If the Danes had been disqualified Martinez and Fernandez, winners of the medal race, would have had enough points to keep their title they won in Athens fours years ago.

A hearing ran late into Sunday night and then continued Monday morning. Shortly before midday, John Doerr, chair of the jury panel of the race committee that heard the hearing, confirmed that the protest had been dismissed and the provisional results were made official.

It was an incredible ending to the medal race. The Austrian boat crashed and the Australians then took the lead when the Italian boat capsized, but the Aussies capsized close to the finish line.

08/21 05:48:30 ET