The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced the names of the first eight athletes to officially join Team GB for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Giles Scott: Finn
Nick Thompson: Laser
Alison Young: Laser Radial
Luke Patience and Elliot Willis: 470 Men
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark: 470 Women
Bryony Shaw: RS:X Women
The announcement comes just two weeks after the Aquece Rio Olympic Test Event, where each country was allowed to send just one representative from each class to the regatta. All eight of the athletes selected to Team GB today were at the Aquece Rio Event, including two event medalists—Giles Scott (gold, Finn) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (silver, 470).
Giles Scott’s appointment came as no surprise. The 28-year-old Finn sailor has gone unbeaten for almost two years, and will make his Olympic debut on Guanabara Bay next August. “I have been trying to get to the Games for a long time and I suppose it’s something that always seemed miles out of reach, a bit of a dream,” says Scott. “I now have 11 months to focus in on the one regatta and hopefully that will enable me to eradicate any noise that other peak regattas would bring in, hopefully it will enable me to be in a better and stronger position for eleven months’ time.”
Also making his Olympic debut sporting the Union Jack is Nick Thompson, the 2015 Laser World Champion. “I have been trying so hard for so long to be selected for an Olympics,” says Thompson. “I have done three Olympic cycles full time and almost more, and to not actually have had the chance to represent the country has been bitterly disappointing. To be selected to be part of Team GB this time, and to be selected really early on, is a huge achievement and it allows me really to focus hard on trying to do the country proud next year.”
On the women’s side, Alison Young, in the Radial, returns to attempt to podium at her second Olympics. In 2012, she finished fifth overall in Weymouth and eighth overall at the test event. “I love going to Rio and I love sailing there, it throws up a lot of variety of conditions,” says Young. “Outside you can get big swell and inside it’s more choppy, more shifty and tide going on. There is a lot to learn about the place, it’s great sailing and a natural amphitheater with Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer so it’s a really great place to go sailing.”
London 2012 silver medalists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark will return to the stage in an attempt to break their silver streak. The pair lost the gold medal at the test event to US Sailing Team Sperry’s Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha, after a penalty against the Brits at the start gave Haeger and Provancha the extra edge.
Windsurfer Bryony Shaw, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and finished seventh in London in 2012, was the first British woman to medal in windsurfing.
Luke Patience won silver in the men’s’ 470 three years ago alongside Stuart Bithell, who now competes in the 49er class. Patience now teams up with two-time world champion Elliot Willis for the 2016 games. “I’m just so pleased to be in a team with Elliot and be able to experience his first excitement to it all,” says Patience. “We raced each other hard, to the bone, in our younger years and here we are in the team together. Stuart and I had a fantastic experience last time round and I’m sure me and Elliot and I are on the same path to have a fantastic experience to go and race hard.”
According to the Team GB statement on the appointments, “British sailors have established a proud tradition of excellence in Olympic competition, having won 55 medals – including 26 golds – since sailing made its debut at Paris 1900 with Team GB topping the overall Olympic sailing medal table.”