Olympics: Cancer-survivor Santiago Lange, 54, wins Nacra gold for Argentina

Santiago Lange (left) and Cecilia Carranza Saroli of Argentina react to receiving the gold during the awards ceremony in the Nacra 17 Mixed class of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Sailing events on August 16.
Santiago Lange (left) and Cecilia Carranza Saroli of Argentina react to receiving the gold during the awards ceremony in the Nacra 17 Mixed class of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Sailing events on August 16.PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Argentine helmsman Santiago Lange and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli won gold in the Nacra 17 mixed-sex catamaran class at the Rio 2016 Olympics after a fast medal race that saw wind pick up smartly on the Pao de Acucar course on Guanabara Bay.

Lange, 54, the oldest sailor at the event, overcame more than his rivals on the water to win. A year ago he lost a lung to cancer.

He credited his sons Yago and Klaus, representing Argentina in the men's 49er two-person skiff, for helping him build his strength and confidence to compete again.

"They were a great inspiration to me, my strength," he told reporters. "For the first time they were able to join me at a medal ceremony."

One of Latin America's most legendary sailors - many of the region's young prospects learn on the Optimist-Class dinghies made by his company - Lange is competing in his sixth Olympics and first since 2008.

The medal is his third, after winning two bronze medals in the now discontinued Tornado catamaran class.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia came within a single point of gold but their second-place finish was not enough to close the gap built up with Lange and Carranza Saroli in the 12 preliminary races before the medal round.

Bronze went to Austria's Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank, marking their country's first medal of the Rio 2016 Games.

The Austrians almost took silver after they finished the medal race with the same amount of overall points as Australia, 78.

The tie, though, was broken because they finished in third in the medal race, one spot behind Waterhouse and Darmanin.

The results were the tightest of the Rio 2016 Olympic regatta.

A day of steady and firm to strengthening winds allowed organisers to complete four medal races after two of them - the men's Laser and women's Laser Radial classes - were postponed on Monday. The other race was in the men's Finn class heavy single-person dinghy.

Organisers had originally expected to move the Nacra 17 medal race to Wednesday.