Hobart sailor Matt Bugg wins Paralympic silver medal

Matt Bugg took Tasmania’s Paralympic medal haul to three but had to settle for silver after a dramatic finish to the sailing competition in Rio de Janeiro.

Leading the one-person 2.4 Norlin OD fleet heading into the final day on the Sugarloaf Mountain race course, the Lindisfarne sailor was hit hard by results in races nine and 10.

A 14th place followed by a disqualification meant that even another victory in the final race wasn’t enough to earn the 35-year-old gold.

Bugg finished with more victories than any rival, four from the 11 races, and had not finished lower than fifth until the final day.

But France’s former world champion Damien Seguin took full advantage, winning race 10 to snatch the gold medal with Great Britain's defending champion Helena Lucas claiming bronze.

With each competitor’s worst result scratched from their total, Bugg’s 14th place in race nine still counted against him while Seguin reaped the reward of a clean-sheet of top-five finishes.

Double Paralympic gold medallist Seguin, who came a frustrating fourth in London four years ago, finished on a net total of 30, Bugg on 36 and Lucas 39, the Brit losing the silver medal to Bugg after finishing 14th in the final race.

Bugg’s result completed a superb regatta for Australia having already claimed gold in the three person (Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris) and two person events as Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch became the only sailors in history to defend a Paralympic title.

It also added to silver and bronze medals claimed by Forth’s 1500-metre runner Deon Kenzie and Launceston shot putter Todd Hodgetts in the athletics.

Speaking ahead of the final day’s drama, Bugg had been in high spirits after edging out Lucas in a photo finish to race eight.

"It was really close,” said Bugg, who was left a paraplegic by a snowboarding accident at the age of 23. 

"It's amazing the difference between coming first or second in the last race of the day and what sort of mood that can put you in for the rest of the night. Yesterday I was annoyed because Helena got me right on the line and today I'm stoked because I got her right on the line."

Bugg, who is based at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and came seventh at the 2012 Paralympic Games, said his first international regatta victory, at Hyeres in Spain in April, had convinced him of his potential in the sport.

"I've always known I can beat these guys but until then I'd never beaten them all in the same regatta. Of course it gave me the confidence that I could win races and also win regattas.”

End in sight: Tasmanian sailor Matthew Bugg competes in the one-person keelboat (2.4mR) at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Getty Images

End in sight: Tasmanian sailor Matthew Bugg competes in the one-person keelboat (2.4mR) at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Getty Images

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