Olympics-Sailing-Yin wins China's first sailing gold

QINGDAO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Windsurfer Yin Jian won China’s first Olympic sailing gold medal on Wednesday, hailing it as the ultimate reward for years of battling constant injuries and spending long periods training away from home.

“When the flag was being raised I was thinking about the hardship I have gone through for this gold medal,” the 29-year-old Yin told reporters.

“These past four years have been a hard time for me ... because of the injuries that have affected my training. It’s a very demanding sport that requires you to be in perfect physical condition,” she said.

Yin spent just two months a year at home in China’s western Sichuan province while training thousands of miles (kilometres) away on the coast, but said coming from a town in the mountainous region had helped her cope with the sport’s physical demands.

“All the support that everyone gave me throughout the years has paid off. I can proudly go back to my home town and tell my people that I have not let them down.”

Yin reeled off a list of the parts of her body that had been affected by injury.

“My waist, shoulder, legs and feet,” said Yin, adding she had spent every night after racing at the Games on the treatment table undergoing acupuncture and massage for muscle strains.

Yin, a silver medallist in Athens four years ago, said she had “taken the responsibility” to win China’s first Olympic sailing gold.

China’s 44 golds at the top of the medals table give them an insurmountable lead over the Americans with 26, allowing the Communist rulers to boast sporting glory to match their economic might and superpower status.

“I am the only one in the Chinese sailing team that is from inner China,” Yin said.

“Many people find it strange that as someone from that area that I can do so well in an aquatic sport. But the altitude helps me. That’s why I can have a better physical condition,” she said.

“I always tried my best to maintain a calm mind in front of the challenges and pressure, whether I was leading the fleet or was behind in a race.”

Editing by Ralph Gowling