The 15 sailors already named to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will remain the same for the rescheduled Games in 2021, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have confirmed. The squad includes the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Saskia Tidey, crewing in the British 49erFX.
The announcement follows the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the postponement, the BOA asked the RYA to consider and confirm its position regarding the selection of athletes for Team GB.
A meeting held by the RYA Olympic Selection Committee (OSC) unanimously agreed that the selections previously agreed should stand for the rearranged Tokyo Olympic Games, which will take place from July 23 to August 8 next year.
It was the OSC’s view that the sailors selected in all ten Olympic classes remain the best choices to maximise Team GB’s medal-winning potential in Enoshima, the sailing competition venue.
Team GB’s sailors were the first to be announced back in October 2019, with an initial 12 sailors selected including Olympic champions Hannah Mills (470 Women) and Giles Scott (Finn).
Partnering Mills will be her world championship-winning crew Eilidh McIntyre, while in the men’s 470, Luke Patience and Chris Grube were selected. In the men’s 49er class, Stuart Bithell teams up with Dylan Fletcher, while Charlotte Dobson returns in the 49erFX alongside Saskia Tidey. Alison Young will make her third Olympic appearance in the Laser Radial discipline. Both representatives in the RS:X windsurfer class are newcomers to the Olympic Games: Tom Squires and Emma Wilson.
The 12 selections were followed by a further three in February of this year. John Gimson and Anna Burnet were selected for the Nacra 17 class, while Elliot Hanson (Laser) completed the 15-strong line-up in late February in the Laser. All three will be making their Olympic debuts at the re-arranged Games.
Mark Robinson, RYA Olympic Performance Manager and Team GB Sailing Team Leader, said: “I am delighted to re-confirm the 15 athletes already selected for Team GB will stay the same for the rescheduled Games.
The postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games has brought mixed feelings for sailing champion Hannah Mills, who will delay retirement to compete in Tokyo, according to the BBC.
For Mills, who was going to retire after the Games, there is relief at the new date, despite having another year of sailing at the highest level.
“It’s all consuming, an Olympic campaign, so it really is a big deal to add another year to it,” she says.
“I just know what it takes to deliver your best performance. It really does take everything you’ve got,” she says.
“But ultimately, I’ve come on such an incredible journey with Eilidh McIntyre, my crew – it’s going to be her first Olympics which is such a cool, special, amazing thing to be a part of.
“I really believe our team has something great to offer. So, when you weigh it up logically and take the emotion out, it’s a really easy answer.
“We know now exactly when the Olympics is going to be, so we just need to figure out the best possible training plan between now and then.
“It would be a massive mistake for us to just carry on as we have been for the last four to six months – head down, smashing every single day – because we’d certainly burn out at some point.
“So, it’s about re-assessing and looking at how we approach the next 14 to 16 months.”
“Selection was only just sinking in and then it was partly taken away with the ambiguity as to what was going on with our trials process,” says Elliot Hanson, who is set for an Olympic debut in the Laser.
Hanson is pleased he has an extra year to prepare after coming close to a medal at the World Championships.
“To have the extra bit of time is a confidence boost. I’m lucky in many ways. I feel like I’m on an upward trajectory,” he says, according to the BBC.
“There’s another World Championships between now and the Olympics to hopefully get that medal.”
Olympic performance manager, Mark Robinson, said British Sailing “strongly believe” the squad remains the right athletes to represent the nation in 2021.
“The global pandemic has caused much uncertainty but, combined with release of the new dates for the Olympic Games, this decision will give our sailors the confidence, clarity and motivation to charge towards Tokyo 2020 and the goal of bringing home medals for Team GB,” he says.
GB sailing squad for Tokyo 2020:
- Giles Scott (Finn)
- Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (470 women)
- Luke Patience and Chris Grube (470 men)
- Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (49erFX)
- Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell (49er)
- Alison Young (Laser radial)
- Emma Wilson (RS:X women)
- Tom Squires (RS:X men)
- John Gimson and Anna Burnet (Nacra 17)
- Elliot Hanson (Laser)