Britain’s Hannah Mills became the most successful female Olympic sailor ever after the reigning champion and Eilidh McIntrye clinched the final sailing gold of the Tokyo Games in the women’s 470.
The 33-year-old Mills had said she and McIntyre – whose father, Mike, won gold in Seoul in 1988 in the Star class – were “feeling sick with nerves” as the final race approached. They quickly fell in behind Switzerland and remained second going into the final leg. They dropped down to fifth after rounding the final buoy but had done enough to extend their lead at the top to 16 points.
Mills and McIntyre secured seven top-three finishes in their 10 races before the double-points medal race to give themselves a healthy 14-point lead over the French duo of Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz.
Mills, who was a flag-bearer for Team GB during the opening ceremony alongside the rower Mohamed Sbihi, won a silver medal in London 2012 and then gold in Rio in 2016 before her then partner, Saskia Clarke, retired from Olympic racing. She and the 27-year-old McIntyre began sailing as a pair in 2017 and won the World Cup Series in at Santander in Spain in their first race together.
The gold puts Team GB clear of Australia at the top of the sailing medal table with three golds, one silver and one bronze. This is their second most successful sailing medal haul behind Beijing 2008, where they secured four golds, one silver and one bronze.
Luke Patience and Chris Grube finished fifth in the men’s 470 after a disappointing eighth-place finish in the double-point medal race. The Australian duo Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan picked up a fourth first-place finish to win gold, having gone into the medal race with an almost unassailable 20 point lead. Sweden clinched silver with a second-place finish and Spain crossed the line in fifth to secure bronze.
Patience and Grube, who won bronze together at the junior world championships in 2006 before going their separate ways only to unite shortly before the Rio Games, went into the medal race in fifth. They were nine points behind the bronze medal position with faint hopes of climbing into contention but slipped behind the leading six in the fleet early on and could not close the gap and were pipped to seventh by Italy.