Heads held high after silver sail

10 August 2012 / 16:47

Sailers Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark leave London 2012 with their "heads held high" after capping a wonderful 18 months together with an Olympic silver medal.

The pair teamed up early last year following the sudden retirement of Clark's then partner in the women's 470 class, double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton.

They have made miraculous progress since and, having become the first Brits to win the world title a few months back, came into Friday's medal race with a real chance of topping the podium, sitting joint top of the standings alongside New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie.

However, just like Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell earlier in the afternoon, the duo were thwarted by their Antipodean opponents and forced to settle for silver - Britain's fifth and final sailing medal of the Games.

"No gold post box for us then," Clark said after coming off the water. "Ah, and no stamp for God's sake," Mills added with a smile, before Clark continued: "The thing I am most gutted about is that it wasn't a really good scrap for the gold.

"The race was over two-thirds up that first beat. They had a huge distance on us. In the pre-start we were fighting for a boat-length gain, which we got, but then they had a 200-metre lead and they were never going to let us in."

The pair were surprisingly chirpy after returning to dry land, but there was a clear and understandable air of disappointment around them - epitomised by images from the on-boat camera of Mills slumped with her head in her hands as the Kiwis rounded the last mark.

"That was one of the lowest moments," Mills said. "Crossing the line was probably the lowest moment. It just kind of hit home that it was done and I just felt like we had let everyone down and it was just a bit of a horrible feeling."

"I've had disappointment before," Clark interjected, putting her arm around Mills. "Whatever the result of this week was going to be, Hannah and I have built an amazing team this past 18 months - the timescale that we had.

"If we walked away with the gold medal, if we walked away with nothing, we walked away with our heads held high at what we achieved."

The pair revealed a motivation to win gold will almost certainly see them stay together for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they will be joined by fellow silver medallists Patience and Bithell.

They too have pledged to carry on after failing to wrestle men's 470 gold off Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page in the re-arranged medal race.

"I'm up for it," said Patience, before Bithell added: "We'll absolutely carry on for Rio. We're young, we've got one Olympics under our belt and come back stronger with a bit more experience.

"It was a good race. It was clearly going to be a two-horse battle, attacking each other. We got the slight upper hand at the beginning and it was very close at the top mark, but they just edged away in front of us on the first run and took control from there. But it is a great race, we didn't embarrass ourselves and we're happy."