by Matt Carter
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are ready to complete an emotional journey as they prepare to commence their London 2012 medal quest at the Weymouth and Portland Olympic sailing venue on Friday (3 August).
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, (GBR) racing in the 470 Women class
The pair, who compete in the 470 Women’s two-person dinghy class, only paired up 18 months ago, ending an uncertain few years for the each girl as they both trialled with a number of different partners to campaign for London 2012. Cardiff’s Mills and Clark, from West Mersea, Essex, rapidly established themselves amongst the world’s women’s 470 elite, achieving a national first in May this year when they became the first British women ever to win the 470 Women’s World Championship title in Barcelona.
The 470 Women are the final class to get their Olympic campaigns underway. The pair have been wholly focussed on finishing what they started in February 2011.
Clark said: 'We formed three months before the trials and had no idea after a phone conversation about us teaming up if it was going to work. It was make or break for both of our London 2012 Olympic dreams. To a certain extent the situation demanded we had to make it work, we had to get on with each other.
'That allowed us to put any ego, any chips on our shoulders, or any baggage either of us might have had coming into this relationship aside. There was no time for it and those early few months really set a great tone for our relationship. There’s just no place for high drama in trying to achieve what we are trying to achieve on the water.'
Mills added: 'It was a good position in a way because we had nothing to lose. It was a very exciting time, but just so stressful and intense. Sas and I are so lucky in so far as we totally respect each other and get on incredibly well for two people who didn’t really know each other that well before they got thrown in to a boat. Because of that, we want to do as well as we can for each other as well as ourselves.'
Silver medals at the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta and Olympic Test Event, both at the Olympic venue, earned them selection for London 2012, which they marked with another silver medal at the 2011 Worlds in Perth. But it was their performance in Barcelona in May that really gave the girls heart before the Games.
Mills said: 'Winning the Worlds was absolutely incredible. We went there knowing we could potentially win if all the bits and bobs came together at the right time and it did. It just gave us an absolutely huge, huge boost in confidence.
'It was the first event Saskia and I have won together, we’ve got a lot of silver medals, but that was first the gold medal. That’s something we really, really wanted to achieve before the Olympics just to prove to our competition and ourselves that we can win. It’s just given us that extra little boost and hopefully we can do it again.
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August. The Women’s 470 medal race is scheduled for Friday 10 August (1pm).
Follow Britain’s 470 Women and the rest of the British sailing team at London 2012