Laser's 'El Demolidor' seeks last medal at home
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Robert Scheidt, one of three Olympic sailors to win five medals, two of them gold, reckons he has a good chance of making it six when racing begins on Aug. 8 at home in Rio de Janeiro.
And if the medal is gold, even better.
It won't match the four Olympic golds won by former British arch-rival Ben Ainslie, now racing America's Cup boats.
It will, though, let the man known as 'El Demolidor' (The Demolisher) pass the medal haul of Ainslie and Brazilian Torben Grael, former Star- and Soling-class champion and Brazilian Team head coach, the only other five-time Olympic sailing medallists.
A sixth medal in six Games, gold or not, would be a good way for the 43-year-old Scheidt to end his Olympic career.
Win or not he is already Brazil's greatest ever Olympian, his two silvers and a bronze edging Grael's single silver and two bronze, with both having won two golds. Scheidt's individual record will likely stand for some time.
"If I can be consistent and avoid mistakes, I'm confident I have a medal shot," Scheidt told reporters this week at a Brazilian sailing team event in Rio.
"But the Laser is one of the classes where sailors are most aggressive," he added. "People are well prepared physically and the foreigners have come here to prepare and know the courses."
But he is prepared too.
Scheidt probably knows the tricky winds and waters of Rio's Guanabara Bay and adjacent waters better than any of the other 45 members of the Laser Olympic Fleet.
For three decades he has chased the currents and puffs at a venue many sailors are calling the toughest ever at the Olympics, experience that helped Scheidt win nine Laser world championships as well as his Olympic medal haul.
In a sport that rewards brains and brawn, the 43-year-old is ship-shape at 1.9 metres (6ft 2in) and 83 kg (183 pounds), big and tough enough to handle the physically demanding Laser, despite leaving the class after the 2004 Olympics to race the Star-boat.
He cleaned up there too, winning three Star Worlds, a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and bronze at the London Games.
When the Star was dropped for Rio 2016 he returned to the Laser, winning his ninth world championship in 2013.
He is currently ranked fifth by World Sailing, the international sailing governing body.
(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Ken Ferris)