Sir Ben Ainslie confident Britain’s sailors will produce better Olympic showing in Tokyo 2020

Ben Ainslie celebrates winning his fourth Olympic gold off Weymouth in 2012
Ben Ainslie celebrates winning his fourth Olympic gold off Weymouth in 2012
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Sir Ben Ainslie has backed Britain's sailors to continue delivering medals in next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Britain have topped the medal table in four of the last five Games, although their haul of three medals in Rio in 2016 was the lowest since Ainslie claimed one of two silvers in Atlanta in 1996.

‘I know the preparation of our sailing team has been second to none," five-time Olympic medallist Ainslie said.

‘The strength of our team is that it's been a progression since '96, from learning each time the team gets stronger and stronger.

‘If you look back to 2016 you've only got one shot at it, you have to make it count on the day and for whatever reason the squad didn't have their best competition across the classes.

‘But I don't think that was through a lack of talent or ability, it was just an off-week so to speak. I will certainly be looking for the squad to turn things around through Tokyo and having a stronger showing than they did in Rio.’

Olympic champions Hannah Mils - who will be competing with Hayling Islander Eilidh McIntyre - and Giles Scott are among the 12 sailors selected to represent Great Britain in Tokyo.

Ainslie - who won Olympic gold in 2000,2004,2008 and 2012 - added: ‘Having people with that amount of experience, who have been there and done it, that just gives the rest of the squad that much more confidence.

‘They can see how those teams operate and know that they're part of a winning culture.’

Ainslie was speaking after the announcement that he has joined the Great Britain SailGP Team presented by INEOS ahead of the league's second season in 2020.

The 42-year-old's full team will be announced early next year and will feature a combination of crew from INEOS TEAM UK, the Portsmouth-based British challenger for the America's Cup, and existing members of the SailGP team.

‘Being a fan of the sport and seeing the inaugural season and the racing in these boats, the speeds that they're reaching and the closeness of the racing, frankly I wanted a piece of the action,’ Ainslie added.

‘I want to be out there racing at the highest level and the other reason is that a season racing at this level prepares us very, very well for our core focus, which is the America's Cup in 2021.

‘The America's Cup has got the history and the prestige and the fact that in Britain we've never won it, that's the big motivation and driver for us and our team.

‘No doubt it will be tough, going down to New Zealand, taking on the Kiwis on home waters. Sailing is one of their biggest sports down there and they're very, very good at it.

‘We're under no illusions about the challenges ahead but we are very excited with this partnership with the GB team in SailGP and see that as being a big stepping stone to helping us with our other aspirations.’