Hayling Island sailor Eilidh McIntyre: ‘I don’t care what form the Olympics comes in, I’m just grateful it’s there’

Sailor Eilidh McIntyre is just 'grateful' to get the chance to compete at the Olympics this summer - even if her family and friends won't be there to watch her.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 11:42 am
Eilidh McIntryre, right, and Hannah Mills. Picture: Charly Triballeau/Getty Images.

Japanese authorities have banned any international supporters from attending the Tokyo Games due to coronavirus concerns.

It means McIntyre, who grew up on Hayling Island will compete in her first ever Olympics without any of her own support in attendance.

The 26-year-old admitted her 'dream' had always been to have her mum and father Mike - a Games gold medalist in the Star class at Seoul in 1988 - watching her take to the waters in an Olympics.

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However, McIntyre was unsurprised at the news overseas fans will not be able to travel - and she's just relieved it looks as though her chance to be part of the delayed Tokyo sporting spectacular will arrive.

The Old Portsmouth resident said: ‘I know it’s come out that family and friends won’t be able to come to the Olympics; to be honest, I’ve expected since it got postponed last year.

‘A lot of my emotion about the event and the spectacle I hoped I’d be able to compete in and this lifelong dream of what it would be like - a lot of that I let go.

‘The whole event is not going to be what we’re used to it being, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an Olympics, it’s still the Olympic Games.

‘It still means the same amount, it’s just going to look really different.

'When you’ve wanted something for so long and it gets threatened to be taken away, you don’t care what form it comes in, you’re just happy and grateful it’s there in the form it is.'

McIntyre and Team GB 470 Class partner Hannah Mills had been deprived of competitive competition for 18 months prior to the World Championships in Portugal earlier this month.

The duo, who were defending champions, were unable to retain their title - finishing fifth overall.

They were slow to get going in the event before a late rally almost saw them seal a spot on the podium - and they would have but for a penalty in their final race.

The former Mayville School pupil was 'gutted' the pair failed to retain their 2019 world title.

But McIntyre believes getting some mistakes out of the way ahead of next month's European Championships - again being held in Portugal - and the Olympics may not be a bad thing.

She said: 'We’re quite hard on ourselves and our expectation of performance so to say we were happy to brush it under the carpet (failing to defend world crown) would be wrong.

‘It was an event of two halves so it’s quite easy to feel positive about the second half.

‘I’m obviously gutted that we missed out on defending our title, that’s what we wanted to achieve, but the main event this year is the Olympics.

‘There’s the potential that, had we not made the mistakes we made at the World Championships, we would have been maybe a bit more blasé over some of the mistakes we did make.

‘Fortunately, we’ve made those now.'