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Pathways with Hannah Mills | Female Sailor

8 MARCH 2022Feature
by Hannah Mills, Female Sailor
Tags:
  • Great Britain
  • Pathways is a Great Britain SailGP Team guest blog series looking at the routes individual team members took into the sport. For the previous blog in the series from Female Sailor, Hannah Diamond, click HERE.

I am originally from Wales and learned to sail on a family holiday down in Cornwall. Immediately fell in love with the sport. On returning home, I desperately wanted to continue and convinced my parents to sign me up for lessons. From there I ended up learning on a tiny reservoir called Llanishen Sailing Centre at eight years old. Growing up, I was very competitive at all sports. Any time competition was mentioned I was the first one to sign-up, wanting to win.

In 1996, Ben Ainslie had just returned home from the Atlanta Olympic Games with his silver medal. He came to my local sailing club to give a talk. This was a game changing moment for me, as it was the first time that I realised sailing could lead me to the Olympics. Since then, it was all about making my dream of sailing in the Olympic Games a reality.

This dream came true at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 470 Women’s Class with my sailing partner Saskia Clark. We took home a silver medal. After London, we felt we could go one better and wanted to continue competing. I was fortunate enough to keep sailing with Saskia in the 470 at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, that dedication delivered and led to winning gold. This was a huge achievement for us both and ended our sailing partnership in the perfect way. Most recently, I won gold in the 470 class with Eilidh McIntyre at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. This seemed even harder with COVID restrictions and a delayed Games but we never took our eyes of the end goal. Another huge moment that we will never forget, just amazing!

Since joining the Great Britain SailGP Team, I have loved racing within the circuit particularly because of what they stand for through the Impact League. I strongly believe that sport has a huge role to play in inspiring the next generation to be the best that they can be, but also the best for the planet. I believe that as athletes we have a huge role to play, and I look forward to being a part of the movement.

My role onboard the F50 is currently focussed on giving input to the helm on strategy, tactics and communications. This is a key role on board the boat, and huge learning curve in understanding how the boat flies. As we move into Season 3, I am also going to be responsible for helping manage our Women’s Pathway Program, another area I’m hugely passionate about.

What I love most about sailing is the performance element. For me it’s all about being driven to be the best you can be, but also for the team. This International Women’s Day, I want to tell all the young girls that are athletes, activists, painters, or musicians to follow their dreams and stand up for what they believe in.

It is easy for girls growing up to believe that ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘this isn’t for me’, or ‘there is someone else better suited’. But there isn’t. If you grab the opportunity and learn as much as you can from the people around you, there is no reason that girls can’t do anything as well as anyone else.


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