WEYMOUTH, England (AP) — Pavlos Kontides won Cyprus' first medal at an Olympics when the took the silver Monday in sailing's Laser class.

Kontides and Tom Slingsby of Australia were the only sailors who could have won gold in the medals race. Slingsby, who led the entire regatta, covered Kontides the entire race and won the gold.

Cyprus, an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, started taking part in the modern-day Olympics at the 1980 Moscow Games.

"I guess I wrote my name in Cyprus sport in golden letters," Kontides said. "I guess when I have the silver medal around my neck and be back home, then all the celebrations will start, and I will really understand what I have done."

Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias congratulated Kontides by telephone Saturday, when the silver medal was assured. Christofias conveyed his gratitude and that of all Cypriots for his "immense success," an official statement said.

The Cyprus Sport Organization said Kontides' silver medal "marks a new beginning for Cypriot sport."

Kontides said on the Cyprus Sailing Federation website that he was inspired by his father, himself a Cypriot sailing champion and former federation chief, to take up the sport at age 9.

His mother, Androulla Kontides, told a TV station: "He's made us all proud. He's a talented boy, and we always believed that he could do it."