Injured Percy quits title defence with Olympics in mind

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IAIN PERCY admitted to calling time on his ISAF Sailing World Championship campaign through injury with next year’s Olympics in mind – but said that didn’t make it any easier to take.

Emsworth skipper Percy, alongside crew Andrew Simpson, was looking good to defend his world title, won almost two years ago in Brazil, in the Star – racing to a 12-point lead after the first four outings.

However disaster struck on the third day of racing as Percy suffered a back injury, that according to Simpson had momentarily ‘paralysed’ him, in the first race and being forced to pull out.

That brought them off the water for race two as well and after accruing maximum points in both, one of which was discarded, they dropped down to 15th in the overall standings in Australia.

With racing set to continue throughout the week they made the decision to withdraw, their London 2012 ambitions playing a huge factor, but a situation labeled by Percy as simply frustrating.

“We are really disappointed to have had to pull out,” said Skandia Team GBR sailor Percy, who won Olympic gold with Simpson in 2008 and earned early selection for London in September.

“We were having a great regatta, we were sailing well and we were really enjoying the racing. We haven’t done a lot of racing recently so it was great to be racing together with Bart again.

“It is certainly frustrating but it’s more important for me to concentrate on getting fixed and fit again so that this doesn’t happen when it really matters at the Games next summer.”

Percy and Simpson were also forced to bring their campaign at the European Championships last September to an early end, that time due to an ankle injury to Percy.

Their withdrawal came just a day after British 49er pair Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes pulled out, the latter suffering a rib strain, with Simpson deeply concerned for his skipper

“Iain was crying in pain and I have never seen that before and, even though he whines a bit, he is a tough character,” said Simpson.

“When your mate and the guy you are hoping to go to the Olympics with is in pain, especially with his back, which is the most important part of your body, it is very frustrating.

“And you can’t risk making it worse, that is the key, the key is to be ready for next year, luckily we have qualified, and we need make sure we are good shape in the build up to the Games.”

Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more information go to www.skandiateamgbr.com