Arise Sir Ben!

Hampshire sailing hero Ben Ainslie has been knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours after his success at London 2012.

After coming under pressure for his place from Giles Scott, not to mention the row with a photographers' boat at January's World Championships in Western Australia which put doubt over his Olympic participation, Ainslie delivered.

The Cornishman met the Olympic torch in his home county and was its first torch bearer on British shores before carrying the Union Flag for the host nation at the closing ceremony for a glorious Games.

The 35-year-old from Lymington retired from Olympic competition after winning his fourth gold in the waters around Weymouth and Portland and is now focused on leading a British boat to victory in the America's Cup.

His was a sensational Olympic career which began with a silver medal in Atlanta in 1996 in the laser class.

Four years later, in Sydney, it was gold for Ainslie and he went in search of a fresh challenge, increasing in bulk by 15 kilograms to reach the optimal weight for a Finn class sailor.

The switch paid off in 2004 as Ainslie won a second Olympic title, one he successfully defended four years later despite falling ill in the weeks leading up to the Beijing Games.

The win saw him become the most successful British sailor in history, but attention swiftly turned to London, where Ainslie was one of the Team GB talismen.

The perception was he would deliver a certain gold, but first he had to battle the elements and rivals all determined to stop him.

An epic Finn competition turned into a duel between Ainslie and Jonas Hogh-Christensen.

The Dane beat Ainslie in the first six races, but in one teamed up with Dutchman Pieter-Jan Postma, forcing the Briton to take a penalty.

"They've made a big mistake," 10-time world champion Ainslie said. "They've made me angry and you don't want to make me angry."

The irrepressible Ainslie responded by coming from behind to successfully defend his title for a third time and claim a fourth Olympic gold.

The America's Cup - and winning for Britain for the first time since 1851 in the first running of the event - is his next target and few would bet against him.

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