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Hannahs Olympic boost for Welsh sailing

by Hamish Stuart, RYA Wales 20 Sep 2011 21:18 BST

Cardiff's Hannah Mills being selected in the Great Britain sailing team for the London Olympics will be a huge boost for the sport in Wales, say Welsh Sailing bosses.

Mills is the first Welsh sailor to be picked for the Olympics since Ian Barker won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, she will go in as a hot medal favourite after finishing second in the Olympic test event this summer along with partner Saskia Clark.

The 23-year-old only paired up with Clark this year, but they have finished on the podium of every event since then apart from their first together.

Welsh Sailing chief executive Steven Morgan said, “This is great news for Welsh Sailing and our heartfelt congratulations go out to Hannah.

“This has taken years of hard work and dedication and I am sure she and all her family and friends will be so proud of what she has achieved.

“Having a Welsh Olympian - and hopefully one who will go on to win a medal - will help us inspire the next generation of sailors who want to follow in Hannah’s footsteps on the performance ladder, or those who simply want to have fun and enjoy sailing with their family and friends at their local club.

“Our OnBoard programme is designed to introduce young people and their families to the sport and in the 3 years we have been running this programme in Wales over 18,000 first participation opportunities have been offered by Welsh sailing and our partners.”

Mills has come up through the Welsh Sailing squads and is a former junior world champion. Welsh Sailing high performance manager Iwan Basten has known the future Olympian since she started coming through the ranks.

“It is great news today for Hannah and crew Saskia which rounds off a fantastic summer for the pair,” he said.

“Over the years Hannah has stood out not only for her ability in the boat, but determination through the long journey from junior sailing to now representing GBR on the Olympic stage.

“For Welsh Sailing, her achievements so far are particular pleasing as it was Cardiff Harbour Authority and Llanishen Sailing Centre where Hannah Sailing began as a plucky 8 year old in an Optimist – taught by no other than RYA life time commitment winner Frances Hurley and the now Welsh Optimist Head Coach Oliver Green.

“Hannah went onwards and upwards, meeting Alan Williams (manager of the Welsh National Watersport Centre) and Head Wales and British Coach.

“It was Alan who was instrumental in helping Hannah to step from talented junior sailor to a steely focused junior champion in winning her first title at the British Optimist Championships in 2001.

“With on-going Welsh Sailing support, thanks to Sport Wales investment, for Hannah's drive and ambition, Hannah worked tirelessly with Welsh and British Coaches winning, Junior World and Junior European titles along the journey to senior world-beating sailor.

“For the many Welsh Sailors – going through the same process with the quality of coaching in Wales – Hannah is a great example, showing today's juniors that if you have the drive and ambition we have the pathway in place to support our athletes to the very top.

“Thanks to the great work by the RYA and Team GBR, they are at the very top of as the world’s most successful sailing nation and Great Britain's most successful Olympic Sport in recent times.”

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