TV pundit backs Rotherham’s Paul Goodison for gold

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THE voice of BBC’s sailing at London 2012, Leigh McMillan, is backing Rotherham’s Paul Goodison to come out on top in his duel with Australia’s Tom Slingsby ... and claim Olympic gold in Weymouth.

The two-time Olympian, who will co-commentate for the BBC at Weymouth for the duration of the sailing event, is convinced 34-year-old Goodison has the craft and determination to defeat his younger rival.

Laser-class sailor Goodison was angered by what he perceived as a tactical manoeuvre from Slingsby to allow fellow Australian Tom Burton to claim silver behind him at last month’s Sail for Gold Regatta - pushing the Brit into fourth. That was the final public appearance of Goodison ahead of the Games at the same venue.

And McMillan, who sailed at both Athens in 2004 and Beijing four years ago, is keen to see who comes out on top between the pair.

“Goodison is a big-game player and I expect him to be right in the mix come the Games,” said McMillan, aged 32. “He has some serious emotion going into it and has a rivalry going on between him and Slingsby. Goodison will hunt him down. He has bags of experience and is very talented - I know Slingsby is the favourite but Paul has home advantage and a point to prove. That’s a dangerous combination.”

McMillan was speaking as he took part in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, a 53-mile sail around the Isle of Wight.

And as well as backing Goodison, McMillan is equally as confident about other British sailors. He said: “The team has huge experience. We have people performing in every single discipline. There is an incredible amount of talent. But anything can happen as there are so many variables. Goodison must make sure he is meticulous with his equipment. It has to be in absolutely top condition.”

The JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the 4th largest UK participation sport event. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it attracts 1,800 yachts/16,000 competitors. www.roundtheisland.org.uk