- Full name Charles Benedict Ainslie
- Birth date February 5, 1977
- Birth place Macclesfield
- Current age 39 years 172 days
- Height 6 ft
With four Olympic gold medals and a silver, Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. Add to that eight world and European titles, an unprecedented three-time world sailor of the year award, and you begin to see the extent of Ainslie's achievements.
Although born in Macclesfield, Ainslie was brought up in Cornwall and his father, Roddy skippered the British boat, Second Life, in the first ever Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. He began sailing at the age of eight, and by the age of 16, he was Laser radial world champion.
With his sights firmly set on his first Olympics in Atlanta, Ainslie won a bronze medal in the 1996 Laser World Championships before becoming European champion. Aged just 19, he won the Olympic silver medal behind the undisputed great Brazilian Robert Scheidt.
Not content with silver, Ainslie set about challenging Scheidt's dominance, winning back-to-back world titles and in Sydney, Ainslie became Olympic champion in one of the closest-run races ever seen. Looking for a new challenge after Sydney, he moved into the Americas Cup, with 'One World Challenge' but after just over a year decided to return to the Olympic sailing.
He made the decision to move up into the heavier Finn class, where British team-mate Iain Percy had won gold in Sydney. The change in class required him to gain 15 kilograms, and after a rigorous training schedule the gamble paid off and he became European champion in 2002 and world champion a year later. In Athens, Ainslie won his second gold and moved back into the Americas Cup with Emirates Team New Zealand, who narrowly lost to defending champions Alinghi.
Days before the defence of his Olympic title in Beijing, Ainslie fell ill with mumps and for a time it was unlikely he would be able to compete, but he fought back and won his third gold medal in dominant fashion despite light winds in Qingdao.
Once more Ainslie has returned his focus to the Americas Cup, this time with a British challenge, Team Origin. Backed by Sir Keith Mills, the man behind London's successful Olympic bid, led by Mike Sanderson, former world sailor of the year; and skippered by Ainslie, many believed it would be Britain's best chance to capture sport's oldest trophy for the first time in over 150 years.
At his home Games in Weymouth, Ainslie became the most decorated Olympic sailor of all time as he claimed his fourth successive Olympic gold medal at London 2012. Having trailed Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen all week, Ainslie produced a tactical masterclass to defend his Finn crown in dramatic fashion.
Winning gold in Beijing in emphatic fashion. Going into the last race, Ainslie had already secured the silver medal, and only needed to make sure he stayed within five places of American Zach Railey to secure gold. Railey finished sixth, but Ainslie showed his dominance and finished 13 seconds clear and sealed his fourth Olympic medal to become the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.
It speaks volumes of the achievements of Ainslie that his biggest disappointment was his silver medal in Atlanta. Just 19, competing in his first Olympics, he missed out Robert Scheidt. While an Olympic silver medal is for most people, the highlight of their career, for Ainslie he felt it was a missed opportunity and only served to motivate him to return to beat Scheidt in Sydney.
"I don't like to compare athletes from different sports, but Ben Ainslie competes in a boat class where he can only win one medal. The others [Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt] can win two, three... all the way up to eight. What they do is fantastic, but what Ainslie does is equally fantastic." International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who competed in the sailing in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Games.
"Winning the America's Cup would be the greatest achievement of my career, better even than winning four gold medals. The America's Cup started here in 1851 but Britain has never won it. It would be incredible to be part of a British team who won it."
"Ben is quite simply the most gifted small boat racer of the modern era - an incredible talent, he shows unrivalled skill, aggression and determination when out on the water but when on land he's a modest and affable guy who is a wonderful role model for our sport." Royal Yachting Association CEO Rod Carr
After beating the defending champion Robert Scheidt in Sydney, Ainslie required protection from Australian police after he received death threats from angry fans.
In June 2009 Ainslie was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his services to sport.
- Olympic champion Ben Ainslie won't seek fifth gold (Nov 27, 2012)
- Ainslie ready for America's Cup challenge (Aug 16, 2012)
- Ainslie named Team GB flag bearer for closing ceremony (Aug 11, 2012)
- Remarkable Ainslie claims historic fourth gold (Aug 5, 2012)
Ainslie sets up win-or-bust race for gold (Aug 3, 2012)