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Tears of a champion

Written by 22nd July 2022 Chasing Tokyo, Featured-post, Tokyo 2020

Eilidh McIntyre’s Instagram bio reads ‘my tears are my greatest strength’ and she certainly showed that in an access-all-areas sailing documentary.

The Olympic champion is one of the stars of ‘Chasing Tokyo’ as the British Sailing Team and Team GB give unprecedented access to a crew to document their journey to the delayed Games.

Working closely with the sailors, the makers filmed anything and anywhere from homes, containers, gyms and boardrooms, telling the untold story of the most successful Olympic sailing team in the world.

“We were dodging lockdowns and at the time, I actually really enjoyed having some company!” said McIntyre, speaking ahead of the film’s release on Olympics.com on July 28.

“I love getting to know new people and I enjoyed the chance to be myself and to show my emotions.”

In the film McIntyre, who plays a starring role alongside Luke Patience and Tom Squires, repeatedly breaks down. It was an opportunity to show vulnerability that she relished.

“I think I cried every time we filmed,” she said. “I’ve spent my whole life being told ‘pull yourself together.’ I cried every morning of the Olympics because I wanted it so badly and being tearful was how I expressed that. It wasn’t a bad thing.

“I’ve learned to embrace that emotion and used it to my advantage. It’s a huge strength. When I’m struggling, I allow that emotion to come to the surface and it pushes me on.

“Emotion has been used to put people in sport in a box and I have changed my relationship with it now.”

Much of the purpose of ‘Chasing Tokyo’ is to demystify the sport of sailing, being one of the most technical and jargon-filled sports on the Olympic programme.

McIntyre, who won 470 gold alongside Hannah Mills in Tokyo, believes doing so is the biggest challenge facing the sport in a generation.

“Sailing in my mind is falling behind other sports,” she said, “and not because we aren’t interesting or exciting, because we never give this kind of access.

“Other sports are being more open and sharing all of their lives on social media. As the British Sailing Team, we’re still such a closed book.

“We don’t want people to see our edge because we’ve been ahead for so many years and we’re fearful of what people will learn by being part of our journey.

“We’ve hindered ourselves by doing that. There’s so much cool physics behind sailing and that’s what’s exciting about it, it’s the stories behind it.”

Watch Chasing Tokyo on Olympics.com from July 28.