Ainslie to join supporting cast

Ben Ainslie would like to take on a supporting role for the British sailing team

Ben Ainslie would like to take on a supporting role for the British sailing team

First published in National Sport © by

Ben Ainslie might not be competing in Rio de Janeiro but hopes to be there in a supporting role with the British sailing team.

The 35-year-old called time on his Olympic career on Tuesday, retiring as the most decorated sailor in Games' history after taking a fourth successive gold at London 2012. It was a move many had expected Ainslie to make due to his America's Cup commitments and the toll dinghy sailing was having on his body.

Stephen Park, Royal Yachting Association Olympic manager, says the "door is always open" for Ainslie, but the Lymington-based sailor would prefer any future involvement to be behind the scenes.

"I don't expect to be taking that up unless there are some big changes in the world of sailing," Ainslie told Press Association Sport.

"I don't expect that to happen but I am very grateful for the support of the RYA and all the people that coached me and were involved over the year.

"Of course, I wish the team every success and I hope to be continue being part of that in a supporting role."

It has been quite a year for Ainslie, who took not only Olympic gold but also a record sixth Finn Gold Cup on his home waters in Falmouth - success that this week saw him named amongst the 12 contenders for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

"It is a special honour, especially with such an amazing of year of sport in Britain," Ainslie said of the news. "It is a real honour to be part of that group and a part of that amazing year. It will be a fantastic evening. It is a good old saying that you should quit while you're ahead.

"Certainly I have had a fantastic year. I have been very fortunate to have a great Olympic career and this is the right time to bow out with a really exciting new challenge ahead."

That challenge will see him focus on the America's Cup and the team he launched in January. J.P. Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing are currently competing in the 2012/13 America's Cup World Series and were formed with a long-term vision of challenging for the 35th America's Cup.

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