Britain’s Hannah Mills says she has had one of the “hardest weeks” of her life but feels “incredibly lucky” to have become sailing’s most successful female Olympian.
She made history by retaining the 470 title with Eilidh McIntyre, having won gold and silver with Saskia Clark at Rio 2016 and London 2012 respectively.
Mills, who told Eurosport last month that Tokyo would likely be her last Games, says the week of competition took its toll, but in the end it was a comfortable victory for the pair, who had dominated the 470 class at the regatta, finishing 16 points ahead of the silver medallists from Poland.
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"It’s been one of the hardest weeks of my life,” said the 33-year-old.
“I’m sure for Eilidh as well, just every day, not being able to eat, just nerves building up, the emotion of just we’ve done it.
It’s over. We’ve done what we came here to do and it’s amazing.
"Growing up, a lot of Olympians dreamed of being here one day and standing on top of the podium. And to do it twice with Saskia [Clark] before and Eilidh this time, I’ve had two incredible crews to sail with and I just feel incredibly lucky.
"The team around us here have been phenomenal. The support back home has been unreal so thank you everyone."
McIntyre has had to wait for her opportunity after missing out on selection to Clark at previous Games, but she has now emulated her dad, Mike McIntyre, who claimed gold in the star class at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
"Fortunately nothing else [except gold] would have done for me and I think we’ve been so aligned on that for our entire campaign.
"To be honest I just couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe that this has happened. I’ve dreamt about it my entire life with my dad and it’s just such an amazing feeling.
"To my dad, thank you for everything. Thank you for being my inspiration, for being at the end of the phone whenever I wanted to talk.
"I want to thank my whole family and my poor mum… she’s had to live through the stress of this twice!"
Mills is likely to concentrate on Sir Ben Ainslie’s SailGB team after the Games, as well as her ‘Big Plastic Pledge’ campaign which looks to make sustainability a bigger focus in sport.
For McIntyre, her Olympic future is slightly less clear, as the 470 class is changing to a mixed event at Paris 2024.
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