Ben Ainslie admitted the last few weeks have been “the hardest of my life” as he celebrated a record fourth Olympic sailing gold medal off Weymouth and Portland.

“It’s times like this you’re supposed to say something clever but I’m speechless,” the Lymington -based ace remarked after retaining his Finn class title for the third Games running.

“It’s been a really tough week but what a time to do it in front of your home crowd.

“I’m so glad for the people who have supported me over the years; my family, sponsors, the people watching.

“It’s been an amazing experience this Olympics , listening to the crowd makes the difference.

“After six races I was in a bit of trouble. I thankfully turned it around and got it right when it counts.

“I don’t want to go through anything like that again in my life.

“It’s been incredibly hard, there’s been huge pressure for people to perform at a home Games.

“It’s been the hardest couple of weeks of my life and I haven’t slept much the past couple of days.

“It’s unbelievable.”