Tokyo 2020 champion Eilidh McIntyre is to retire from Olympic campaigning.
In 2021 McIntyre fulfilled her lifelong dream of winning an Olympic gold medal when the 28-year-old topped the podium in the women’s 470 class alongside Hannah Mills, and in doing so matched the gold medal won by her father Mike 34 years ago in the Star class at Seoul 1988.
For the Paris 2024 cycle the 470 class moved to mixed gender pairs, with McIntyre teaming up with Martin Wrigley. The quicker turnaround to Paris meant that she and new partner Martin Wrigley were always up against it.
And with the British Sailing Team selection decisions already looming for the 2024 Olympic Trial event, which will take place from 7 to 16 July 2023, every event was crucial.
After nearly a year of competing on the Olympic event circuit Wrigley and McIntyre’s 10th place at last October’s 470 World Championships was apparently the final warning that things had to improve.
McIntyre decided they had run out of time to vie for the podium in Paris . . . the spark was just not happening.
This was not a rash decision for McIntyre, who consulted her coach from Tokyo Joe Glanfield, as well as Mills and Mills’s previous sailing partner Saskia Clark, not to mention her own father, an Olympic champion back in 1988.
McIntyre, from Hayling Island SC explained: “I want to go to another Olympics but I only want to go if I’m going to be battling it out for gold. I don’t want to go and be in that final race of the Olympics absolutely nowhere near to getting a medal.”
“But I, in my heart, just don’t believe that in the time frame available to us that we are going to be in a situation to battle it out for a medal and for a gold. I just lost belief in that cause. I don’t want to go to the Games for the t-shirt.”
“It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly. But for me the Olympics is about fighting it out for the win, and I want to be at the Olympics to do that. I don’t believe that in the timeframe of this Olympic cycle that it’s something I’m able to do, so I’m choosing to step away.”
She added: “There’s no turning back when you’ve lost belief. It makes me super sad.”
With her former partner, Hannah Mills, they won their first outing together – the 2017 World Cup Final in Santander – before following it up with a silver at the 2017 World Championship.
It was the start of a formidable partnership with numerous medals, including gold at the 2019 World Championship, and culminating in the ultimate prize . . . Gold at Tokyo 2020.
In the aftermath, McIntyre and Mills were named 2021 Rolex World Sailors of the Year.
McIntyre was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Years Honours for services to sailing.
The retirement of McIntyre brings to nine members of the 15 strong 2020 GB Team who have withdrawn from the British Sailing Team squad.
Due these retirements and the sweeping changes to the make-up of the equipment being used in Paris, this will be one of the least experienced Olymic sailing teams Britain has sent to the Games for many years.
The Team GB Sailing squad won 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze at Tokyo 2020 to top the Tokyo Sailing Medal Table. . . Five medals from the ten sailing events, their most successful Games since 2008 in Beijing, when they won six medals (4, 1, 1).
Following on from the low point of 2 silver in Atlanta 1996, Britain have topped the sailing medal table at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and Brazil 2016, only missing out in London 2012 to the Australians who had 3 gold to Britain’s 1 gold.