Hannah Mills: Doing what motivates her

Published on March 6th, 2018

When you get silver at the 2012 Olympics, and continue campaigning another four years to get gold, and when your effort is rewarded by dominating so completely to win without sailing the final medal race… well… that’s impressive.

That’s Hannah Mills, who with her teammate Saskia Clark, put on a command performance for her British team at the Rio 2016 Olympics. But Hannah wants more, and it is these such stories of determination and desire that make sport.

But another four years of sacrifice to achieve more? Here’s her story:

I am going to be going for gold in Tokyo 2020, campaigning to be the most successful (not decorated) female Olympic sailor of all time. Now’s your chance sailing masterminds to correct me or forever hold your peace!

The decision of which boat to sail, the question of whether I have really got the motivation, drive and willingness to make it happen, knowing that Sas has retired and I need a new partner whichever boat I end up in; these are all things that have been spinning round my head for the past year. It’s taken me a long time to come to the right (in my mind) decisions.

This is not something I wanted to jump back into because it was the easy thing to do, heading out into the big wide world and getting a job is scary and something I will certainly have to face at some point. But this wasn’t why I came back.

Brainstorming, understanding myself, my motivations, my passions and my happiness has led me back to sailing again. I am at my most happy and fulfilled when I am feeling driven, committed, motivated, achieving, empowering others, creating change, responsible and making a difference.

Olympic campaigning and sailing tick all these boxes for me, so why not do another campaign? The working world can wait for now – but don’t worry I couldn’t be more excited for the next chapter post-Olympic sailing and what that might hold.

After dabbling in the 49erFX, Hannah returns to the 470 and is teaming up with Eilidh McIntyre – daughter to 1988 Olympic gold medallist Mike McIntyre.

Hannah’s comment about ‘most successful’ versus ‘ most decorated’ motivated us to do some digging on women who have won multiple Olympic sailing medals. Hopefully we have found them all, and by our account, Hannah will not be the only one striving for ‘most successful’ recognition:

Four Medals
1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 – Alessandra Sensini (ITA) – one gold, one silver, two bronze

Three Medals
1992, 1996, 2000 – Barbara Kendall (NZL) – one gold, one silver, one bronze
1996, 2000 2004 – Ruslana Taran (UKR) – one silver, two bronze

Two Medals
1900 – Hélène de Pourtalès (SUI) – one gold, one silver
1996, 2000 – Margriet Matthijsse (NED) – two silver
1992, 1996 – Theresa Zabell (ESP) – two gold
1992, 2000 – JJ Fetter (USA) – one silver, one bronze
1996, 2000 – Olena Pakholchik (UKR) – two bronze
2000, 2004 – Shirley Robertson (GBR) – two gold
2004, 2008 – Sofia Bekatorou (ESP) – one gold, one bronze
2004, 2008 – Sarah Ayton (GBR) – two gold
2004, 2008 – Sarah Webb (GBR) – two gold
2008, 2012 – Xu Lijia (CHN) – one gold, one bronze
2008, 2012 – Lobke Berkhout (NED) – one silver, one bronze
2012, 2016 – Jo Aleh (NZL) – one gold, one silver
2012, 2016 – Polly Powrie (NZL) – one gold, one silver
2012, 2016 – Marit Bouwmeester (NED) – one gold, one silver
2012, 2016 – Hannah Mills (GBR) – one gold, one silver
2012, 2016 – Saskia Clark (GBR) – one gold, one silver

As Marit Bouwmeester (NED) continues to be dominant in the Laser Radial, and with others either ahead on the medal count or already on two golds, nothing less than gold will do for Hannah in Tokyo.

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