‘I feel like I’ve achieved everything I’ve ever wanted to, so it’s hard to keep pushing' - Olympic champion Eilidh McIntyre on her sailing future
Olympic champion Eilidh McIntyre is currently observing the longest period out of the water she can recall - and who can blame her?
After all, the Old Portsmouth resident’s years of sacrifices saw her reach the sporting pinnacle back in August.
It was on the Enoshima waters at the Tokyo Games when McIntyre, 27, felt a lifetime of 'pressure' lifted off her shoulders in what would be the proudest moment for any sportsperson.
Following in the footsteps of father Michael, who had claimed gold at the 1988 Seoul Games, the former Mayville High School pupil completed the rarest of family doubles as she stood on the top of the 470 Class podium alongside multiple Olympic champion partner Hannah Mills.
Since then, McIntyre and Tokyo Games champion partner Mills capped the most incredible of years by being recognised with the sport’s biggest honour, named as World Sailors of the Year.
So, how has life changed for McIntyre? Well, she hasn't set foot on a boat since Olympic glory - and is loving every minute of some rare time away from the water and training.
‘I haven’t trained, I haven’t done anything, I haven’t been back on a boat and I’ve barely been back in the gym (since winning Olympic gold), to be honest,' she revealed.
‘I’ve fully taken time off. I haven’t stopped for 12 years to get to this journey and to win gold, for me, I’ve needed this time to figure out, recuperate and get the energy back that I need to try again and give it another go.
‘I’m not even 100 per cent sure whether I’m ready for another cycle yet, but I feel like I’ll give it a go because I owe it to the team and myself.
‘I’ve really struggled (getting back since winning Olympic gold). Some people are already back and I’m struggling to get back.
‘I feel like I’ve achieved everything I’ve ever wanted to, so it’s hard to keep pushing. I’m trying to figure out, alongside sailing, what other things I want to achieve in life and do.’
With attention now turning to Paris 2024 and Tokyo consigned to the record books, how would the tag of ‘double Olympic champion’ sound for McIntyre? Well, in what is already an unenviable task, claiming 470 Games glory again has been made even tougher with mixed crews only permitted in her class moving forward in a huge shake-up.
What it does mean is McIntyre could become the last all-female crew 470 Class Olympic champion and first to do so under the new mixed crew format. And, after all, she is one half of the first-ever GB parent-child combination to win Olympic gold.
But McIntyre, planning on returning to the water in Vilamoura, Portugal next month alongside new class partner Martin Wrigley, is fully aware just how tough standing top of the podium in Paris 2024 will prove - but she'll certainly be giving it all she's got.
‘I want to give it a go, I don’t know if I’m 100 per cent in yet, but I’m going to give it a go,’ said McIntyre.
‘If it looks like we can push for a gold - things have changed - it’s not like I’m going to do the same thing again so it’s harder to say for certain whether we’ll be at the top, I don’t know.
‘I’m going to give it a go, see how we get on, and give it a little try really.
‘It’s definitely different, it changes the game and the sport a bit, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. It’s part of the fun mixing it up.
‘It is definitely a different challenge, which makes it appealing to try again, I could be the last ever Olympic champion in the female 470 Class and the first mixed - that would be pretty cool.’