Mills and Clark Eye Rio After 2012 Silver Success
Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark win Silver for Great Britain
Britain’s 470 Women sailors, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, won Olympic silver just 18 months after teaming up at Weymouth and Portland today (Friday 10 August) before immediately declaring “We’re up for Rio 2016!”
The pair went into today’s double points’ medal race on level terms at the top of the leaderboard with New Zealand. But a big wind shift early on the in race favoured the Kiwis, who had sailed out to the opposite side of the course to the Brits, and it was Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie who claimed gold as Mills and Clark sailed to silver.
Despite their initial disappointment at missing out on the top prize, the duo were able to reflect on an incredible 18 month journey, during which they rapidly established themselves amongst the world’s women’s 470 elite, including becoming the first British women ever to win the 470 Women’s World Championship title in May.
Now with a first Olympic medal under their belts, at what were 24-year-old Hannah’s first Olympic Games, the pair already have one eye on improving on silver in four years’ time.
Mills said: “We didn’t get a gold medal did we? We have got stuff to win now and I’m definitely, definitely keen [to campaign for Rio 2016]. I’d love to do it with Sas but she has got to make that call, I’m keen, I’m in!”
Clark said: “I’m in! We are happy to have a silver medal I think we just feel a little bit gutted we didn’t actually have a great fight out there today. The Kiwis got away from us on the start and that was that done. It would have been nice to have a real good scrap over it and I’m a bit gutted we didn’t have that but we are happy to have silver.
“I’ve had a total rollercoaster the past four years and the last 18 months with Hannah have just been awesome. We have just not won a medal at two events we have done, we have come back with a medal from everything else. When we started sailing together 18 months ago we put everything in to try to qualify for the Olympic team. At that point in time we weren’t even thinking about a medal it was just about qualifying. So to come away with a medal together, we’ve had a wicked time.”
Mills and Clark appeared to get the better start of the two leading boats as they slipped out towards the left of the course. But although being slower off the start line the Kiwis were able to tack away to the right, get clear air and take advantage of a big wind shift. With the Brits caught in a pack, Mills and Clark weren’t able to turn and try to follow the Kiwis over to the favoured side of the course.
In ever-lightening breeze the Brits ended up stranded on the left-hand side of the course hoping the wind would shift in their favour but that shift never came and as New Zealand managed to extend their lead throughout the race, Mills and Clark were left trying to pick their way through the fleet in the hope that what little wind there was may still swing in their favour. A shortening of the course did little to boost the Brits’ chances of turning things around.
Although the TV cameras showed the girls’ immediate post-race disappointment, that had turned to smiles by the time both Mills and Clark ended up in the water in front of a jubilant crowd on the Nothe spectator area.
Hannah added: “The crowd was amazing. It was so, so nice having our family and friends down and even everyone else who we don’t know that has come out to support. It is incredible and just such so exciting for us.
“The wind was tricky. We felt like the left had better breeze, which is why we wanted to get the left but a 20 degree right wind shift came in, the wind died [on the left] and that was game over. We were pretty gutted to be honest but we’ve had a wicked 18 months together. Sas is amazing and we’ve had a great time.”
The girls’ silver was preceded earlier after by another silver for the Brits in the Men’s 470 class. This means Britain’s sailors end London 2012 with five medals from 10 classes in total – one gold and four silvers.
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August.