Rio Olympics 2016: Silver means more than gold for Team Jolly

Polly Powrie, left, and Jo Aleh secured silver despite two disqualifications in the women's 470. Photo / AP.
Polly Powrie, left, and Jo Aleh secured silver despite two disqualifications in the women's 470. Photo / AP.

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie reckon they sailed better and fought harder in Rio than when winning gold at the London Games.

For that reason, both say Rio silver means more to them.

Women's 470 defending champions Aleh and Powrie did what they needed to do to hold onto second place on Guanabara Bay this morning, finishing third to secure the silver medal.

British pair Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, given a clear run by two disqualifications to the Kiwis in the 10-race fleet series, couldn't be stopped from claiming gold.

The Kiwis slipped to seventh overall after the second disqualification in race six, leaving them with what appeared little hope of securing any medal. Aleh said to then rattle off two wins, a third and a fourth was testament to their tenacity and unity.

"At the moment it means more than the gold four years ago. We fought for this," Aleh said. "Nothing went the way wanted it to really, we just battled and battled. To get back to silver from where we were seemed like an impossibility."

Aleh said the "Team Jolly" bond was severely tested after race six, when they were penalised for crossing the start line early. It came four days after also receiving maximum points in race one, for an illegal passing manoeuvre.

Aleh said both rulings were "pretty marginal" and was disappointed appeals failed. She said they couldn't afford to dwell on the setbacks but admitted they struggled to keep it together a few hours after the second call.

"On the water we were pretty good, but that night we needed some chocolate and needed some hugs," she said. "It's hard when you've done all this work and you think that's it, that we'd stuffed up and lost the opportunity. It's even harder when you're actually sailing well."

The Kiwis won four races to the three of Great Britain, the London silver medallists.
Powrie struggled to remember the same sort of pressure on the pair previously, having felt intense expectations to win back-to-back golds.

"It's been an incredibly tough week. We've had not much go our way," she said. "But just to battle on right through has been incredible. I'm proud we kept fighting well enough to come away with this."

The Kiwi pair started the medal race in second, just a point ahead of the United States pair of Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha.

The Americans led around the first two marks, putting them in the silver medal position. But the Kiwis went past them on the beat up to the third mark to reclaim second overall and then held onto third, finishing behind Slovakia and the Netherlands. The Brits ended with 44 points, with the Kiwis 10 points back on France third with 62.

- AAP

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