Clark happy with rapid progress

27 July 2012 / 13:56

GB sailing's Saskia Clark admits the speed of progress made with Hannah Mills has "surpassed expectations" and gives them a lot of confidence heading into the Olympics.

The pair only joined forces in the women's 470 class back in February 2011 following the shock retirement of Clark's partner and double gold medallist Sarah Ayton.

Mills and Clark have made remarkable progress since then and in May became the first Britons to win the 470 world title.

The duo are tipped for further success on home waters this summer - something Clark admits she could not have envisaged not so long ago.

"There was probably a day when I didn't [think I would make the Olympics], a day that I was contemplating retirement," she told Press Association Sport. "But very quickly I was more determined than ever to try and make mine and Hannah's team work and put up a real strong fight for the trials.

"We have been successful in doing that so there was a short bit of time when I thought it was all done, but very quickly we kind of got our act together.

"The speed by which it has come together has definitely surpassed expectations. We obviously wouldn't have gone for it if we didn't think we had a chance of making it and achieving a gold medal.

"But I guess going in as world champions and one of the top two boats is where we want to be. We feel confident that if we sail as well as we know we can and as well as we have done, we will be in a pretty good place come the end of the week."

Sailing gets underway on the south coast this Sunday, with Ben Ainslie in the Finn class amongst those beginning their campaign.

Mills and Clark have to wait until next Friday but the fact they are the last class to start will not see them dramatically alter things.

"Preparations are going well and we're happy," Clark said. "We moved into the Olympic accommodation two days ago as we obviously kept ourselves out longer than anyone else because we start so late.

"We didn't want to get too hyped up with everyone else's programme when we're the last to start. I think a lot of people go to the Olympics and change the preparation, but we're doing it as we have done the last year.

"It might be a little bit harder next week to race the areas we want to race on, but we have got a plan for smaller scale stuff."

Clark and Mills will be at the London 2012 opening ceremony in London on Friday along with men's 470 pair Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.

The rest of the British sailing team are remaining in Weymouth, including Clark's partner and reigning Laser gold medallist Paul Goodison.

The pair live together in Weymouth and are both staying at the Team GB accommodation at RYA Portland House for the duration of the Games, which the Essex-born sailor admits is a bonus.

"It is really cool to have someone you're that close to around," Clark said. "Lots of people are already on their second week away from people they spend their lives with, which I guess can be a bit of an added strain that you don't want at this kind of time.

"This last six months he has been pretty inspired by his training. To watch an Olympic champion be like that is pretty impressive and inspiring in itself.

"I am excited for him and really hope he can achieve what he wants to."