Team GB sailing champion Giles Scott says it is “Olympic curtains” for him, with the finn class being removed from the programme after Tokyo 2020.
The Rio 2016 gold medallist will be looking for a second victory in Japan and in a year where sport has been heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Scott has been busier than most - having competed for Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK in the America’s Cup.
Scott goes to Tokyo with the added pressure of knowing that the finn class has been in British hands at the Olympics since Iain Percy’s triumph at Athens 2000. Since then, Ainslie has won it three times, before Scott continued the tradition in Brazil five years ago. But although he is always reminded of that, the 33-year-old says it adds very little extra weight.
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“It’s an amazingly cool stat to have as an Olympic sailing team and the wider finn squad over the years,” he told Eurosport.
This is the last time the finn class will be represented at the Games so there are a lot of reasons for wanting to win. The amount of pressure that I put on myself and my drive to try and win at the Olympics is massive anyway and the added pressure of it having been in British hands since 2000 is, proportionately speaking, quite a small amount.
“There are cool stats like that and for sure you want to continue it but I want to win the Olympics regardless of that - it doesn’t change my drive or desire to win.”
Losing the finn class from the Olympic programme is a huge blow for Team GB, given its success has inspired a whole new generation of sailors. But Scott is ready to move on from the Games cycle regardless.
“Even if the finn had been continuing, I think this would be my final Olympic push. Never say never, you don’t know what the future holds, what classes pop up or if my mindset changes and I want to have another crack at it.
But it is hard. For people my size there’s not many opportunities to sail another class, so it’s kind of Olympic curtains for me. The bigger, heavier guys haven’t really got many other options. If this had been happening to me 10 years ago, it would have been devastating.
“There’s a lot of talent coming through and they could have had great Olympic futures and they won’t get those opportunities, I really feel for them. It’s a real shame for those guys who’ve had the spark of an Olympic dream.”
Since returning from the America’s Cup, Scott has finished second at the European Championships but was disappointed by his own performance at the World Championships shortly after. He says the focus there was too much on selecting equipment to take to the Olympics, but hopes he can now concentrate fully on the “nitty gritty” of racing.
But the one advantage he has over many of his rivals is the experience of competing in such a huge and prestigious competition as the America’s Cup and Scott hopes that will stand him in good stead.
“I think a lot of the other guys are reasonably competition hardened but they’re probably not too hardened on the focus and the amount of external pressures that get put on you at the Olympic Games,: he said.
“That’s the thing that the America’s Cup brought, it’s fraught, it’s very high stress, there’s a lot of people who are expecting certain results. You are under a lot of pressure and that’s something the Olympics replicates every four years.
“I’m certainly hardened at dealing with adversity because our campaign in the latter stages to put it lightly was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Ultimately, we couldn’t get the boat quick enough and we ended the campaign frustrated.”
Scott says a “healthy level of obsession” has kept him at the top of the sport throughout his career and that “enough is never enough” for him. Though he plans to continue to help Ainslie fulfil his dream in the coming years, full focus is on adding a second Olympic gold this summer - and keep the finn class in British hands.
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