SAILING American team grabs first-ever gold medal



XATHENS, Greece -- American sailor Kevin Burnham politely waved to race officials at the finish line, let out a whoop and did a back flip into the deep-blue Saronic Gulf.
It was a gold-medal splashdown, one he'd been waiting a long time to do.
Burnham, of Miami Beach, and his skipper, Paul Foerster of Rockwall, Texas, outwitted and outmaneuvered their British rivals in a classic match race Saturday in the 470 class to win their first Olympic gold after years of trying.
"Absolutely unbelievable," Burnham said after drying off from his spontaneous celebration. "When I saw the finish line and the Brits behind us and I knew they couldn't win, I was just so happy."
After winning Olympic silver medals, the low-key, experienced Americans weren't interested in finishing second again.
"This is my fourth Olympics, I've had two second places, and you always think, 'Well, we won the silver, but it's kind of a letdown not winning the regatta,' " the 40-year-old Foerster said. "It's nice not having a letdown. It feels great."
British skipper Nick Rogers, 27, and crew Joe Glanfield, 25, got the silver.
"We knew it would be tough to beat the Americans because they had enough silver to dunk a donkey," Glanfield said. "They wanted a gold. They did a good job."
Two other U.S. crews got off to great starts Saturday.
In the Star class, Paul Cayard of Kentfield, Calif., and Phil Trinter of Lorain, won the first race -- their Olympic debuts -- and were sixth in the second, good for a two-point lead over Brazil's Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira. The Brazilians won the gold in 1996 and the bronze in 2000.
The powerful British team got its second gold of the games Saturday, when Ben Ainslie completed his remarkable comeback from an earlier loss in the protest room to finish first in the Finn class. Ainslie is unbeaten in major regattas since switching to the Finn from the Laser following his gold-medal performance in Sydney in 2000.
Associated Press
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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