Rio 2016: Giles Scott on London 2012 heartache, Sir Ben Ainslie and going for gold

Sir Ben Ainslie (left), Giles Scott (right)
Sir Ben Ainslie won Olympic Finn class gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012 - Giles Scott is hoping to do likewise in Rio

Not many four-time world champions have to share the spotlight with a contemporary, never mind one who is a four-time Olympic gold medallist.

Giles Scott, spurred on by the disappointment of missing out on London 2012 to Sir Ben Ainslie, will head to Rio in August as the world's best in the Finn class.

There, the 29-year-old is a strong favourite to win his first Olympic gold and he is hopeful that such an achievement would end all conversations of whether or not he can emulate Great Britain's greatest ever sailor.

"Every single time I speak to anybody in the media, I am compared to Ben," Scott told BBC Sport. "I'm not Ben Ainslie, I just happen to be the guy that tried to beat him and failed.

"I'm not really sure I'll ever step out of his shadow because of everything he's done. It's not the reason why I'm trying to win the Olympics - it's more personal than that."

Anguish of missing London 2012

Ben Ainslie & Giles Scott
Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, left, in action at the Skandia Sail Regatta in 2011

For many British athletes, London 2012 was the pinnacle of their careers. For Scott, a home Olympics were anything but pleasing.

While Ainslie was competing in the America's Cup following his third Olympic win in Beijing in 2008, Scott was making a name for himself in the Finn class.

However, Ainslie returned and won a series of regattas to secure his place at the Games. Scott finished agonisingly close behind in all of the races and, with only one boat per class selected, he missed out on qualification.

"On the water it was war," he said. "It turned into a proper sporting battle.

"In the build up to 2012, Ben had had 16 years of dominance and he spent his time trying to assert that.

"I was the little nipper that was trying to break it down the whole time. I wasn't a million miles away but that doesn't matter because it wasn't enough."

Though Weymouth-based Scott admitted his rival deserved his place, he felt the hurt of being unable to compete at an Olympic Games in his own backyard.

"I made myself stay down there and see what it was all about but I didn't enjoy it," he recalled.

A lifetime sailing with Ainslie

Giles Scott
Giles Scott during a training exercise for Land Rover BAR

Scott switched from Laser class to the Finn class in 2007 and was part of a training group that assisted Ainslie before the 2008 Olympics.

Just 20 at the time and of little threat to his mentor, the Huntingdon-born sailor explained how much advice Ainslie gave him compared to four years later as the two fought for London 2012 qualification.

Far from resentment and bitterness between the two, Scott is part of Ainslie's America's Cup team - Land Rover BAR - and will work as a full-time tactician after the Olympics.

"We get on really well," Scott said. "There's a lot of mutual respect and Ben's just Ben.

"We've been fierce competitors in the past and I would have liked it to be my time in 2012, but it wasn't to be.

"There's no way Ben would have been a pushover in my position. I think he respects that in me."

For all of the comparisons, Scott has shown his own ability and skill - winning his fourth World Championship title in May to move one behind Ainslie's tally of five.

Having clinched Olympic qualification in October 2015, he is clear on his objective for Rio.

"I would like to come away with a gold medal," he said. "That is the campaign that my coach and I put together four years ago. Hopefully I can have my time."

'Reasonable amount of panic' about Zika virus

Giles Scott
Scott won the Youth World Championships in Korea at 18 in the Laser class

For Olympic sailors there is a great deal of importance on being well acquainted with conditions - typical wind patterns, the tidal stream and the general environment.

Over the past two and a half years, Scott has spent in excess of 120 days in Rio acclimatising to a challenging course.

Organisers have been forced to put in additional race areas, in case the designated ones are too polluted, while the threat of the Zika virus remains.

"There are a lot of signs all around about the Zika virus, there is a reasonable amount of panic around," Scott explained.

"It's a huge risk and there is not a great deal we can do about it, there's no medicine you can take.

"The biggest worry is picking up some bacterial infection from the water and not being able to race."

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