Eight sailors named as first athletes on the British teamsheet for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced the names of the first athletes to officially join Team GB for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
If follows the announcement of Paralymic sailor Helena Lucas being named as the first British athlete to be chosen for Rio, when she was selected for ParalympicsGB in April.
A total of eight athletes have been selected across six of the 10 Olympic sailing events.
World Champion Giles Scott’s is the first name to appear on the Rio teamsheet, with the 28-year-old, unbeaten in almost two years, set to make his Olympic debut in the Finn class.
London 2012 silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are paired together again in the 470 Women’s class while Luke Patience, who also won silver three years ago, teams up with two-time World Champion Elliot Willis in the 470 Men’s event.
Bryony Shaw, who became Britain’s first female Olympic medal-winning windsurfer with bronze at Beijing 2008, is set to contest her third Olympic Games next year in the RS:X Women’s event.
London 2012 Olympian Alison Young returns in the Laser Radial while 2015 Laser World Champion Nick Thompson earns his first Olympic appearance to round off the first wave of sailing selections for Rio.
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.
The selected sailors are:
- Giles Scott: Finn (Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy)
- Nick Thompson: Laser (Men’s One Person Dinghy)
- Alison Young: Laser Radial (Women’s One Person Dinghy)
- Luke Patience and Elliot Willis: 470 Men (Men’s Two Person Dinghy)
- Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark: 470 Women (Women’s Two Person Dinghy)
- Bryony Shaw: RS:X Women (Women’s Windsurfer)
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, said: ‘The selection of the first Team GB athletes is a landmark moment on our journey to next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
‘The eight athletes named today include Olympic medallists and World Champions, all of whom have earned their place in the 6 boat classes. As one of our most successful medal winning sports it is a fitting that Sailing kick-off our Rio 2016 team announcements.
‘This is the start of the creation of what is likely to be a 350 strong Team GB in 2016. Our focus is on great preparation, great support and great performance and, if we get that right, we will have delivered an environment that will allow the athletes to perform to the best of their ability.’
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Team GB is calling on the nation to Bring on the Great in the run-up to Rio 2016 – and at the Games themselves – as our athletes gets ready to compete at the world’s greatest sports event.
Fans can show their support by sending in their good luck messages on TeamGB.com and joining the new Team GB Club. These messages will be displayed on flags which will be given to the athletes travelling to Rio as well as featuring on Bahia Bands, a traditional Brazilian good luck bracelet, which fans will be able to buy later this year.
Stephen Park, Team GB sailing team leader and RYA Olympic manager said: ‘We’re delighted to be announcing the first sailing members of Team GB today. The road to Rio 2016 has just got one step closer for these eight athletes who have displayed fantastic performances during our qualification period so far – most notably Giles Scott who has dominated in his class for the past two years.
‘It’s particularly pleasing to see Giles, Nick Thompson and Elliot Willis finally earning their Olympic call-ups after making such strong contributions to the British Sailing Team’s medal winning efforts over the years.
‘They and all the other sailors named today have proven they have what it takes to win medals for the United Kingdom at the highest level, and their selections today allow them good time to focus their campaigns specifically on preparing for the challenging sailing venue that Rio undoubtedly is.’
Two-times World Champion in the Finn class, Giles Scott, who narrowly missed out on selection for the London 2012 Games to Sir Ben Ainslie, said: ‘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. To be in the position to be selected to Team GB is a huge honour and to be going is a lifelong ambition. But clearly I want more from it than just to say I went.’
Scott, who also sails with the Ben Ainslie Racing America’s Cup team and lives in Portland, Dorset, added: ‘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 11 months’ time.’
Saskia Clark, who is originally from Essex but now lives Weymouth, Dorset, said: ‘I still feel like a bit of kid getting selected to go to the Olympics, whether it is your first time or your third and so I’m really excited.
‘We have a lot to learn to about the venue in Rio and obviously we are really pleased to have come away from both Test Events with a medal, not the win, but medals prove we’re close. We have a year to go, all our competitors have a year to go still as well, so we are not planning on slowing down and thinking the job is done.
‘We have a very busy year ahead to keep improving and are improving at a faster rate than anyone we are sailing against.’
Lymington’s Nick Thompson, who now lives Ringwood, Hants, said: ‘I have been trying so hard for so long to be selected for an Olympics. 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.
“I think to win gold in Rio you need to be a really good all round sailor. We have seen so far on the trips out there that the conditions are really challenging and you do get a good mix.’
Alison Young, who grew up in Bewdley, Worcestershire but now lives in Portland, Dorset, said: ‘I didn’t really expect to get the phone call so I was pretty excited to find out I was being selected. It’s the first essential step in trying to win a gold medal in a year’s time.
‘It’s great being part of the British Sailing Team and at the Games when we all come together as Team GB it adds another level to that, so I’m really excited and it’s a great privilege to represent the UK.
‘I love going to Rio and I love sailing there, it throws up a lot of variety of conditions. 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 amphitheatre with Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer so it’s a really great place to go sailing.’
Scotland’s Luke Patience, who now lives Portland, Dorset, said: ‘It’s such an exciting phone call to get and it just gets the wee butterflies going. You dream about a single thing for so many years of your life, certainly all of my adult life in my case, so to get the call saying you’re selected for the Olympics is just so good, such an honour. I’m always proud to don the Team GB shirt and here we go again. Round two, let’s fight!’