Slingsby captures long-awaited gold

Sailor Tom Slingsby has won his maiden Olympic gold medal, and Australia's second of the London Games, in the men's Laser class final.

Sailor Tom Slingsby has won his maiden Olympic gold medal, and Australia's second of the London Games, in the men's Laser class final.

In doing so, the 27-year-old from Gosford in New South Wales achieved what Australia's swimmers were unable to - secure an individual gold medal in London.

About three hours later, fellow Australians .

For Slingsby, his ninth placing in the final race was enough to stay clear of his nearest challenger in the overall standings, Cypriot sailor Pavlos Kontides.

"Words just can't describe how I feel right now," Slingsby said as he soaked in the victory.

"Nothing beats this. Olympics is the dream and it's the pinnacle of the sport."

The victory will wash away memories from Beijing, where Slingsby went in as the hot favourite but finished a disappointing 22nd.

He went into the 2012 Games in fine form, having won the test event off Weymouth and Portland last year and the pre-Olympic regatta in June.

"I've been through the highs and lows of the sport over the last eight years," he said.

"To come away from China was a heart-breaking feeling, but I'm the happiest guy in the world right now.

"Every time I felt the nerves and thought about China, I thought back to how well I'd done here and I really lived in that confidence.

"If I sail well, no-one's going to beat me. I focused on myself and knew they weren't going to catch me."

Slingsby, the reigning world champion, predicted his win would be the catalyst for an Australian sailing gold rush at these Games.

"(Overall, Australia has) plenty of medals, but unfortunately just off the top. I'm glad I could get there and hopefully this kick-starts us into action," he said.

"I'm predicting four (sailing gold medals). I think we'll be the top nation here."

There were emotional scenes as Slingsby's parents celebrated their son's win watching from the heights of the Nothe hill overlooking the course.

He went into the medal race with a massive lead over his rivals and just needed to beat Kontides.

Germany's Simon Groteluschen won the race with Uruguay's Alejandro Foglia Costa two seconds behind him.

Swedish sailor Rasmus Myrgren got the better of Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic in the battle for bronze behind Kontides, who won his country's first Olympic medal in any sport.

"That's amazing," Kontides said, "but the emotions haven't come through yet because I have today's racing to consider. I don't allow the emotions to disturb my thinking."