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Austrian pair retain Tornado title

Justin Palmer in Athens | August 28, 2004 20:36 IST

Austria's Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher retained their Olympic Tornado title in style on Saturday, winning the final race in their two-man catamaran.

The pair, who have crewed together since 1997 in the fastest of the Olympic sailing classes, held a slender advantage going into the last of 11 races but blitzed their key rivals with a faultless performance on the last day of the regatta.

Americans John Lovell and Charlie Ogeltree, seventh in Sydney, claimed silver and bronze went to Argentina's Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola.

The Austrians, such was their dominance, had wrapped up gold with two races to spare in Sydney four years ago but were made to work harder for victory in Athens.

They lost their opening day lead to the U.S. crew and did not top the standings again until after race seven.

"Some people in Austria said it was a bit boring (to watch us win easily) in Sydney," Hagara joked.

"So we tried for another version this time... it is more interesting to watch close racing." Emphasising his point, he added: "This victory means more to us."

Hagara, 38 and Steinacher, 35 are renowned light wind specialists and had conditions to suit on the Saronic Gulf -- chalking up four wins, a second and a third in the series.

Explaining their superiority when the breeze is slight, Hagara said: "In Austria we have a lot of lakes which have light conditions almost all the time... and we are also a little bit lighter than all the other teams which gives us an advantage."

The Tornado class was the 11th and final gold medal to be decided at the two-week long regatta.

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