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Shirley Robertson delves deep into British Sailing's Olympic Medal Factory

by Shirley Robertson 5 Oct 2021 15:56 PDT 6 October 2021
Tokyo2020 - Day 4 - July, 28, - Enoshima, Japan. Womens 470 © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com / nz

In this month's edition of the podcast, Shirley Robertson talks to a host of Olympic sailing stars as she delves deep into the world of British Sailing, and asks just why the team has become such a dominant force in Olympic Sailing.

Robertson, a former Team GB member herself of course, a four time Olympian and double Olympic gold medallist, talks to three of Team GB's Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, discussing their own personal routes to victory, but also delving into life as a member of the most successful Olympic sailing team of all time. She also talks to the Team's Head of Performance, Mark Robinson, she discusses the rigours of back to back Olympic campaigning with Team GB's Luke Patience, and she gets the outside viewpoint from US Sailing's Paul Cayard.

Kicking off the podcast though, Robertson talks to the woman who's gold medal in the 470 Class in Tokyo makes her the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time - British 470 helm Hannah Mills.

"At the Games there's so much distraction, there's a bit of a circus because it is the Olympic Games... it's like a marathon of horrible stressful days but what I think I'm good at is just accepting that it's fine... the nerves are fine, it means you care, it's a good thing... it's just part of you for that experience, and being able to accept all those things that you can't control... whilst all that's going on the background, that's the difference between success and failure at the Games."

Mills and crew Eilidh Mcintyre were one of three gold medal winning teams for the British Sailing Team in Tokyo. In part two of the podcast Robertson talks to the men's 49er Class crew Stu Bithell and she talks to Finn gold medallist Giles Scott.

Both Bithell and Scott thrilled British sailing fans in the manner of their medal wins, both managing to grasp gold medals that seemed to be slipping away in two of the closest medal races in recent memory. Bithell and helm Dylan Fletcher just squeezed enough speed out of their 49er to put points between themselves and New Zealand gold medal favourites Burling and Tuke, while Giles Scott manoeuvred himself back into gold medal position on the very final leg of his medal race after a nerve wracking twenty minutes of sailing that saw the reigning Finn gold medallist re-start his race...:

"The only way that I could really mess things up and slip off the podium was if I got disqualified and Josh (Junior) won the race. So that is your doomsday scenario that you have to talk about... so the conclusion to that was if there is at all a chance of you being over the line, you're going back and of course in that race there was an individual recall flag... as soon as the flag went up I was going back, there wasn't anything going through my head... and from there it was a full scramble to try and get back into the race."

In addition to the gold medallists Robertson's look at Olympic campaigning with 470 fifth place finisher Luke Patience is a fascinating and moving listen. A three time Olympian, Patience started his career with a silver in London, but after two consecutive fifth place finishes in Rio and Tokyo, is both honest and sincere in his description of the pain that constant Olympic pressure can bring. It's a moving account from one of British Sailing's most eloquent athletes.

This edition of the podcast is in two parts and is available to listen to via the podcast page of Shirley's own website, at www.shirleyrobertson.com/podcast or via most popular podcast outlets, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and aCast.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The podcast is produced and written by Tim Butt - for further enquires, please contact

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