Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre are history makers.
Mills came to Tokyo already a legend in Olympic sailing, but will leave as the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time.
On the waters of Sagami Bay, Mills and McIntyre stormed to gold today to cap off a dominant week at Tokyo 2020.
Now with two golds and a silver to her name, Mills’ place in sailing’s history books is cemented for all time.
For McIntyre, it’s not just about winning gold, or even claiming the title of the last ever women’s 470 Olympic champion.
She wasn’t born when her dad Mike snatched gold in the Star class at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but she’s grown up all too aware of the family legacy.
With that medal hanging on the wall outside of her childhood bedroom, McIntyre’s lifelong dream was to have one of her own. Today that dream came true.
The pair stayed calm in the medal race and did what they needed to do. They finished fifth, just behind their Polish rivals and ahead of the French team.
They were however made to sweat as a protest by the French held up the celebrations. But quickly the jury dismissed the protest and the gold medal was confirmed.
Mills and McIntyre’s triumph caps off a stellar week for Team GB’s sailors, and secures Britain’s place as top sailing nation for the fifth time in six Games.
For Luke Patience and Chris Grube, the dream of an Olympic medal came to an end, their valiant fight for a podium place in the men’s 470 ending in fifth.
They fought all regatta long, exemplified by their resolve on the very first day when their mast broke and they had to return to shore between races to fix it.
Against all odds, Tokyo 2020 has been incredible – the most successful Olympics for our sailors since Beijing 2008.
From Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell’s first British 49er gold medal, through Giles Scott’s Finn class Olympic title defence, to John Gimson and Anna Burnet’s silver in the Nacra 17 and Emma Wilson’s bronze in the women’s windsurfing, the performances in Enoshima have been nothing short of outstanding. World class. World-beating.
British sailing is in a good place, Scott told reporters moments after coming ashore from that historic victory.
Indeed it is, Giles. Indeed it is.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Hannah Mills, 33, from Cardiff, Wales, said:
“It’s been massive. I mean it’s been one of the hardest weeks of my life and I’m sure for Eilidh as well. Just every day, feeling sick, not being able to eat, just nerves building up and yeah, the emotion. But we’ve done it, we’ve done what we came here to do and it’s amazing.”
Commenting on becoming the most decorated and most successful Olympic female sailor, Hannah said: “Yeah it’s mad, it’s absolutely mad. Growing up you obviously, like a lot of Olympians, dream of being here one day and standing on top of a podium. To do it twice, with Saskia before and Eilidh this time, I’ve had two incredible crews to sail with and I just feel really lucky. We’ve got a great team around us and the support has been phenomenal.
“Big shout out to the National Lottery, and everyone who plays the lottery, because without you guys we wouldn’t be here either. And the support back home has been unreal, so thank you everyone.”
Eilidh McIntyre, 27, from Hayling Island, Hants, said:
“Fortunately nothing else [but Gold] would have done for me either and I think we’ve been so aligned on that during our entire campaign. That’s all we were going for, anything else was a disappointment and I think knowing that this whole campaign has prepared me.
“To be honest, I can’t believe this has happened. To think that I’ve dreamt of this through my entire life. With my Dad [Michael McIntyre, 1988 Olympic champion], it’s an amazing feeling and I just can’t wait to have the gold around my neck.
“I’d like to thank my Dad for everything, for being my inspiration and for being at the end of the phone whenever I’ve wanted to talk. But it’s really hit my whole family, my poor Mum who’s had to live through the stress of this twice now, and my sister and brother have been my total rocks. But thank you everyone – my fiancé John and that whole group of them – have been there so much and supported me. It’s always been that nothing is good enough, but gold is enough and they’ve all been on this journey.”
Luke Patience, 34, from Rhu, Scotland, said:
“The mentality going into today was business as usual. It’s full fight you know, we make sure we keep heart and passion in everything that we do in the water. Business as usual with the heart and the passion, everything sport requires. It’s a tough old thing to take on any professional sport, and everything has to be right when you’re competing against the best in the world.
“The reality is today we needed a wee slip up from our competitors out in front of us, and they didn’t slip up. We can do as well as we like, but if they don’t slip up we don’t have enough distance in points to make up the deficit, so that’s the uncontrollable bit.
“It’s a conversion of points, so it’s the order of which you cross the finish line. Whether you get first, second, third, fourth, fifth in the race, we needed to get a mathematical equation where they get too many points and we get not many points. And then overall scores will jump and switchover.
“You can put some hurt on your competitors by taking wind out of sails, by being in between them and the next mark, like an elbows out analogy. But you can only do that if they give you an opportunity to do that, if they open the door for it – which they didn’t and they were strong, too strong.
“Yeah it’s tough man and I’m a bit emotional at the minute. I mean, it’s just a long road and a good one as well.
“It’s a joy to push and compete at the highest level, but it’s hard when you don’t get what you want out of it. But pride, there’s always pride.
“We’re so well-supported by the team behind us and a nation behind us – the National Lottery players, Mums, Dads, anyone that’s ever walked into a shop and bought tickets has helped us try to achieve our dream. You want to do it for everyone that’s backed the journey, but the buck stops with us. There’s an army of some 65 million that has helped us to do this, but it wasn’t to be this time.
“It wasn’t in vain though and we held the British flag at the highest level in this class.
“This sport has given me so much, you know, I’d like to give something back. I’d like to see that there’s more gold medals than this time in the next Games. So whether that’s me in a boat, or Twiggy in a boat, or us in a coach boat. Sitting here right now, the latter possibly seems more likely because we’re right on the back of a half a decade of working towards this and it’s a bit heart breaking right now. So it’s probably easier to say yeah it’s probably on coach… but I’m not going to do a Redgrave.”
Chris Grube, 36, from Chester, Cheshire, said:
“I mean we gave it everything we could today. We had a plan coming into it, but I think ultimately it wasn’t to be and basically we were out-sailed this week by the 3 or 4 boats out in front of us and yeah they’ve shone for a while now this year. We felt we had a real chance midway through the week and in the medal race we still thought we had a chance and we were still pushing hard going in to today, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“For us, last time I think we were quite proud of how we did. You know fifth last time after just 8 months together, it was a good performance really for the time we had. With this time, I think we’ll both be quite heavily disappointed by it because of the amount of time that we’ve had – that’s five years together to try and achieve it and have fallen foul so yes, it’s very disappointing. Nothing has quite sunk in yet to be honest.”