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Danes crowned 49er champion after dramatic day
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21:12, August 18, 2008

Gold medalists Jonas Warrer (R) and Martin Kirketerp Ibsen of Denmark stand on the podium during the awarding ceremony of the 49er medal race at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games sailing event at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center in Qingdao, an-Olympic co-host city in eastern China's Shandong Province, Aug. 18, 2008. (Xinhua/Song Zhenping)

It took Jonas Warrer and Martin Ibsen of Denmark 19 hours to wait for the final declaration of their 49er gold medal winners at Olympic Sailing Regatta here on Monday.

Athens 49er medalists Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez of Spain took the silver medal and German brothers Jan-Peter Peckolt and Hannes Peckolt claimed the bronze medal.

The Danes crossed the finish line in 7th place in the double points medal race, enough for them to claim gold with 61 points overall, and then had to survive a protest lodged by the Race Committee against them using another competitor's boat.

The Danish team were protested by the Race Committee for sailing the medal race in a boat borrowed from the Croat crew, who were not competing in the medal race, after the mast on the Danish 49er snapped shortly before the start, according to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

After a Jury hearing from Sunday afternoon till 00:50 on Monday and then continued in the morning, John Doerr, chair of the Jury panel that heard the hearing, confirmed shortly before midday that the protest had been dismissed and the provisional results were made official.

"The Olympic Measurement Committee approved the replacement of the boat and found that it complied with class rules and all equipment inspections carried out in the Medal Race Quarantine Procedures," wrote the hearing document. "No penalty will be imposed, because no advantage was gained by Denmark."

"We're happy about how it turned out. Our mast broke 20 minutes before the competition and we thought we weren't going to make it. We were lucky in that we borrowed the Croatian's boat and got to the start line five seconds before the horn," said Jonas Warrer.

Iker Martinez from Spain said they were stuck in the jury room on Sunday reading papers for hours. When the decision was made, the first thing that they said to the Danish team was congratulations.

"We were champions in Athens four years ago. We got silver today, it is still good for us. Not many in the world have two medals, so we are really happy about that," he said during the press conference after the awarding ceremony.

Earlier on Sunday, an enthralling medal race provided a dramatic finish at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center with a big swell and stormy conditions with gusts up of 20 knots and more. The Austrians led for much of the race, with the Italians in second and the Australians third.

This put the Australians and Italians in a battle for gold and when the Austrians crashed up, the Australians took the lead and the Italians capsized, it looked like gold would go to the Australians. However they capsized close to the finish on the final run, the Spanish kept their boat upright and crossed the line in first.

Spain totaled 64 points after the medal race while Germany tallied 66 points.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 39 14 14 67
2 USA 20 22 25 67
3 Australia 11 10 12 33
4 Great Britain 11 7 8 26
5 Germany 9 7 7 23
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22
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