Elliot Hanson will make his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 after being selected as the 15th and final Team GB sailor today.
Hanson’s selection comes after he finished fifth at the recent Laser World Championships, missing bronze by just two points.
The 25-year-old from Macclesfield joins a stellar line-up of Britain’s best dinghy and multihull racers including reigning Olympic champions Giles Scott and Hannah Mills, plus recently-crowned Nacra 17 world champions John Gimson and Anna Burnet.
Of the 15 sailors picked to represent Team GB, nine have previously competed at an Olympic Games.
Hanson joins women’s 470 crew Eilidh McIntyre, windsurfers Emma Wilson and Tom Squires and Nacra 17 pair Gimson and Burnet as debutants.
“It’s a huge honour to be chosen for Team GB, and I’m sure it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said Hanson.
“I always felt proud to represent the British Sailing Team in its own right, but the Olympics with Team GB is a whole new level. The sense of being part of a greater team with the whole nation behind you is incredibly exciting.”
Hanson’s journey to selection has been far from easy. His Team GB call-up comes after a long selection battle with three others including two-time world champion and Rio 2016 athlete Nick Thompson – testament to the strength within the British Olympic Laser squad.
He won the 2018 World Cup Series in the Olympic venue of Enoshima, but came a disappointing 22nd at the Ready Steady Tokyo 2020 test event in 2019.
However, a fifth at the recent World Championships in Melbourne was enough to secure a place on the plane to Tokyo this summer.
“When I got the call to say I’d been chosen, my first reaction was relief. I felt like I’d let the first opportunity for selection slip during the test event last summer, blowing the whole trials wide open again. It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but ultimately I felt I came back stronger.
“Following that I called my parents. Both of them have been there unconditionally since day one and made huge sacrifices. I think I woke them up because of the time difference but I’m sure they didn’t mind.”
Hanson will look to emulate his hero Ben Ainslie, the greatest Olympic sailor of all time, when he takes to the waters of Enoshima on July 26th.
Ainslie won silver in the Laser class at Atlanta 1996 and gold in Sydney four years later. Like Ainslie, Hanson has his sights on the top spot.
“The Laser class is possibly in the strongest place it’s ever been with a realistic eight nations capable of winning gold, and more who could medal,” he said. “That said, I certainly won’t shy away from the fact I’m going with every intention of trying to win.”
Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England said: “Elliot completes a strong sailing line-up for the Tokyo 2020 team, full of experience and promising talent and we’re very excited to see them compete in Enoshima in July.”
Giles Scott: Finn (Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy)
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre: 470 Women (Women’s Two Person Dinghy)
Luke Patience and Chris Grube: 470 Men (Men’s Two Person Dinghy)
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey: 49erFX (Women’s Skiff)
Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell: 49er (Men’s Skiff)
Elliot Hanson: Laser (Men’s One Person Dinghy)
Alison Young: Laser Radial (Women’s One Person Dinghy)
Emma Wilson: RS:X Women (Women’s Windsurfer)
Tom Squires: RS:X Men (Men’s Windsurfer)
John Gimson and Anna Burnet: Nacra 17 (Mixed Multihull)
Image credit: World Sailing