Sailing pair reveal Olympic spirit

19 December 2012 / 16:38

Olympic silver medallists Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell have announced they are to go their separate ways as they bid for sailing success at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

The duo, now both 26, shone at London 2012 and just fell short of men's 470 gold on the south coast in what was their first Olympics. Patience at the time said the pair would be in Brazil together "providing we don't die in a plane crash" and spoke of upgrading their silver medal in the immediate aftermath.

However, they have now decided to seek new challenges as the light winds anticipated for the Rio Games means the pair are too heavy to sail successfully together there.

"We've always been one of the heavier 470 teams on the circuit, and even with a four-year-long rabbit food diet, we're still going to be naturally too heavy as a crew to realistically be threatening for gold in Rio," Patience said.

"We both knew it would be an issue and so it really was a no-brainer that we would need to do something differently if we're to get onto that top step of the podium in four years' time."

Bithell echoed those sentiments, adding: "We're good mates and we both want that for each other, so although it's been a blast and I'll miss sailing with Luke, we know it's the right decision to take."

Bithell will mount a campaign as a helm in the high-performance 49er class, with his new crew set to be announced in the new year. Patience, though, is sticking with 470 class and is weighing up his options ahead of Rio.

"Stuart and I have had an amazing journey, and I'm so proud to have stood on the podium with my mate this summer," Patience said.

"Although we won't be sailing together towards Rio, we're both so excited about the road ahead and want to thank everyone who's backed us, from the RYA and Skandia Team GBR, to our sponsors and supporters, to the kids at schools who've written to us. It really means a lot, and we hope to go one step higher, albeit separately, in four years' time."

Meanwhile, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark confirmed to Press Association Sport that they will be continuing together for Rio. Like Patience and Bithell, the pair took silver in Weymouth and Portland, and are reigning world champions.