Team GB’s Rio 2016 gold medal winning sailor Hannah Mills says Tokyo 2020 is likely to be her final Olympic Games, before switching her attention to other events.
The 33-year-old won the Olympic 470 title with Saskia Clark five years ago, upgrading from the silver the pair claimed in London. Now she has a new partner in Eilidh McIntyre, and Mills is targeting one last shot at glory.
“It’s very unlikely,” Mills told Eurosport on whether she would go to Paris.
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I would never say never because I know Sir Steve Redgrave did and then came back so since that, there’s not been much point in saying never again. I think this will be my last Games, though.
Mills is switching focus to trying to break new barriers in the sport, working with Sir Ben Ainslie on his SailGP team. She became the first female sailor to join the squad and she aims to build on that after Tokyo.
“I’ve looked ahead. The Games are so all-encompassing and when it finishes there’s a huge void, so I’ve definitely put a lot of thought into what’s next.
“I sailed with him in Bermuda recently and it’s just amazing to be around someone that driven and successful and it triggered a few thoughts for me going forward. I’d love to be a part of their team going forward.
I think it’s awesome what SailGB are doing, trying to get that pathway for women to get to that level of sailing. It’s been a long time coming and there’s a long way to go but I do feel that women offer a lot within those teams, I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
“That’s 100% a really amazing option and wait and see in the next month or so whether I can do that. I’m so passionate about the sustainability side of sport too, and it’s got such a part to play. That’s where I see my career starting to go.”
But Mills believes competing in the America’s Cup is a long way off, at the moment: “I don’t think there’s a pathway yet for women.
“There’s a big experience gap for women in that type of sailing to be bridged and hopefully I can help create the pathway for younger female sailors.”
For now, all the focus is on Tokyo 2020, and Mills is already in Japan preparing for her event. But this year, it will be very different - with all athletes adhering to strict conditions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“At London 2012, we were able to go to the opening ceremony and got that whole buzz, and being able to go to the food hall to try and find your favourite tennis player or hunting down your heroes - I was a bit fan-girly really.
“It’s a real shame there’s not that interaction and a chance to meet people from other nations and sports.
“It’s a really personal journey for me, I won in Rio and that was such a weight lifted because I’d finally achieved a dream I had from when I was 8 years old to win a gold medal.
“I can’t describe how lucky I feel to be part of Team GB and the incredible people that are around us that help us deliver our best performance. It’s felt like such a long road to get here, it’s been really emotional already.”
Mills has forged a new partnership with McIntyre since Rio, a sailor who has suffered heartbreak in the past in missing out on selection.
“Eilidh’s amazing to work with, she’s such a hard worker and incredibly motivated. She’s a real absorber of information, she wants to learn, she wants to get better and that’s really inspiring to be around.
“That creates such a buzz and excitement for the Games, it reminds me of my first experience in London, it takes me back and makes me realise again what a privilege it is to be here.”
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