The media tends to fawn over athletes who act humbly and in a ‘sportsman-like’ manner. Showing emotion when losing isn’t completely frowned upon, so long as it’s the right emotion. Think tennis player Andy Murray bawling his eyes out after losing Wimbledon or Judo Olympian Euan Berton’s sorrow – those are good emotions, we’re told.
Team GB sailor Ben Ainslie breaks the mould. He takes winning seriously and is prepared to rage at anyone he perceives to be getting in his way. In the Australian sailing championships last year, he felt that a boat full of journalists was getting too close to his. Rather than suck it up and ignore it, he dived into the water, swam over to the offending boat and confronted those on board.
The Olympian has lived up to his reputation at London 2012. He gave a rude gesture to his Danish competitor in one event, and then angrily accused a Danish and Dutch sailor of conspiring against him.
While jumping out of your boat when in a sailing race may not be the best route to a gold medal, Ainslie’s commitment to winning, and his obvious frustration when he doesn’t, is just what Team GB needs to rack up the medals. What makes this angry sailor so great is his ruthless determination, which he isn’t afraid to show, and his healthy rage when he falls short of his own expectations.