Olympic medallists Emma Wilson, John Gimson and Anna Burnet are among ten sailors named today by the British Olympic Association (BOA) as the first Team GB athletes selected for Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The trio headline a new-look group of elite sailors representing seven of the ten Olympic sailing classes, as the team is announced at London’s St. Pancras International station, home of the Eurostar.
Tokyo 2020 silver medal winners Gimson and Burnet sealed their Paris place with a bronze in the mixed multihull fleet at the Olympic test event in July, followed by the runners-up spot at the World Championships in August.
Wilson also enjoyed a solid summer, with bronze at the iQFOiL European Championships followed up with a silver at the test event in Marseille, the venue for the Paris 2024 sailing competition.
Her selection for Team GB is all the more impressive given she has only been racing the iQFOiL, the foiling windsurfer new for Paris 2024, for two years.
Returning for another tilt at Olympic glory is Saskia Tidey, who with two previous Olympic Games under her belt will be the most experienced member of the sailing team.
Tidey is picked in the women’s skiff class alongside crew mate Freya Black, the youngest sailor in the Team GB sailing line-up at just 22 years old.
James Peters and Fynn Sterritt will look to continue Britain’s success in the men’s skiff on their Olympic debut, following in the footsteps of Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell.
Windsurfer Sam Sills earned his place with Team GB after winning the men’s iQFOiL class at the illustrious Princess Sofia regatta in Mallorca this year, following it up with a fifth at the Sailing World Championships.
Michael Beckett will pick up the mantle in the men’s dinghy and attempt to break Australia’s three-Games winning streak in the class.
Meanwhile Ellie Aldridge’s historic European title win just two weeks ago secured her place as the sole representative in the women’s kite class, the second of the two new sailing disciplines for Paris 2024.
Team GB has a rich history of excellence in Olympic competition, having won 64 medals, including 31 golds, more than any other nation.
The sailors selected for Paris 2024 are:
John Gimson and Anna Burnet – Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17)
James Peters and Fynn Sterritt – Men’s Skiff (49er)
Freya Black and Saskia Tidey – Women’s Skiff (49erFX)
Emma Wilson – Women’s Windsurfing (iQFOiL)
Sam Sills – Men’s Windsurfing (iQFOiL)
Ellie Aldridge – Women’s Kite (Formula Kite)
Michael Beckett – Men’s Dinghy (ILCA 7)
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Paris 2024, said: “It is exciting to announce the sailors that have been selected to compete in Paris. Team GB has fielded sailors at the Games since 1900 and I am delighted to welcome back to Team GB four Tokyo 2020 Olympians, who bring a great mix of proven Olympic success and six debutants. All the sailors selected know what it takes to medal on the world stage, and I look forward to seeing them set sail on the waters of Marseille in just ten months’ time.”
Mark Robinson, Team GB Sailing Team Leader and RYA Performance Director, said: “Announcing this amazing group of sailors as the first athletes for Team GB is a real privilege. They are the best of the best and have all rightly earned their spots thanks to some fantastic performances over the past year.
“We have a lot of pressure and expectation on us to maintain our record as the most successful Olympic nation, but I have no doubt that the sailors announced today are the ones who can help us succeed in that challenge in Marseille next summer.”
John Gimson, 40, Congleton, Cheshire: “The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of our sport and the reason I’ve kept sailing after so many years. It’s an absolute privilege to keep racing at this level and I feel really honoured to get the chance to represent Team GB for a second time. A lifetime of work has gone into this. Tokyo 2020 taught us to expect the unexpected and showed me that the Olympics is still just another sailing regatta, so I hope that experience can leave me in good shape in Marseille. I would obviously love to win another Olympic medal, ideally a gold! Marseille is a really challenging sailing venue so you can never expect anything, but I’ll be happy if we know we’ve done everything we can to put ourselves in the best shape for the competition.”
Anna Burnet, 31, Shandon, Argyll & Bute: “I’ve been mad about sport my whole life and I wanted to go to the Olympic Games before I even knew what sport I would try to go in. Going to Tokyo was a dream come true but it still feels quite surreal. Now to be selected for Team GB for my second Olympics is pretty crazy… more than I ever dreamed! It’s a lifetime of work but really the last seven or eight years have been relentless. Olympic medals don’t come easily! We’re doing everything we can to be in the best shape to win gold in Marseille. I remember being the most nervous I’ve ever been on the morning of our first day of racing in Tokyo. Hopefully that experience will serve us well in Marseille.”
James Peters, 30, Hayling Island, Hants: “Team GB selection for me has been a long time coming. It’s something I’ve dreamed of, and been striving for, over at least the past 15 years. Performing at an Olympic Games has been the primary driver in my life over that time. To finally achieve it is a great feeling. Inevitably, straight away I’m considering how we can grab this opportunity and not leave a stone unturned in our preparation. Fynn [Sterritt] and I believe we have a good chance to finish near the top of the fleet at the Games next summer. We’ve done it before, and the only challenge is to maximise our chances of doing it when it counts.”
Fynn Sterritt, 34, Kingussie, Scottish Highlands: “Representing Team GB at the Olympic Games is something I have been dreaming of since I was 12 years old. You work so hard for so many years to try and win an Olympic medal that when the call comes to represent your country, you really have to stop and remind yourself how far you’ve come. It’s easy to just keep pushing on towards the end goal without appreciating the steps along the way. There’s a huge amount of work to do between now and Paris 2024, I’m just really excited for the year ahead and the opportunity to see what we can do on the biggest sporting stage in the world.”
Freya Black, 22, Goudhurst, Kent: “Getting selected for my first Olympic Games is surreal. I’m so happy and proud of what Saskia [Tidey] and I have put together in the last year and a half to make this happen. We will be pushing hard over the winter in hope of achieving a medal next year.”
Saskia Tidey, 30, Portland, Dorset: “It is a honour to be selected for my third Olympic Games. I have had alot of fun sailing with Freya and building a team worthy of challenging a medal in Paris. Everyday counts now,it is privilage to push hard and not waste one second of learning.”
Emma Wilson, 24, Portland, Dorset: “It’s super cool to be selected. It’s taken a lot of hard work, not just from me but my family, coaches, support staff and so many other people. After transitioning from the RS:X [the windsurfing equipment for Tokyo 2020] to the iQFOiL [the windsurfing equipment for Paris 2024] I really wasn’t sure what it would be like. It was pretty hard with injuries and just keeping the belief. At the beginning I said I’d try for three months and see how it goes, and it went pretty well! I’m just super happy and looking forward to it. It will be my second Olympics but in a completely different class so I just want to go give my absolute best and enjoy it all.”
Sam Sills, 30, Launceston, Cornwall: “Qualifying for the Olympic Games has been a 20-year project. To be honest I was completely physically and mentally exhausted after a gruelling trials process. Getting the call that you’ve done it and your actually going to the Olympic Games was one of the best moments of my life. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with my team, people, family and the people of Great Britain! The vision is the gold medal, and we will be giving everything to bring it home!
“It will be the first-time foiling windsurfing will be seen at the Olympics and I just can’t wait to represent Great Britain in this incredible discipline. Our sport is so special, and I hope that this can help inspire people and have a real positive impact for Britain. Marseille is a tough venue, but we’ll be supported by the best from Team GB and British Sailing. I’m confident as a team we’ve got every chance of success.”
Ellie Aldridge, 26, Poole, Dorset: “I am so excited to be selected for Team GB and still can’t really believe it! I remember leaving my first school when I was young and when we left the school put together a book for everyone. It had the names of everyone in each class, memories of our time at the school and details of where we were each going next and what we wanted to do when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a professional athlete. Not because I really knew what that looked like, but because I loved sport and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I didn’t really think I’d actually make it to becoming a professional athlete, and I definitely didn’t have clue what kite foiling was! But it’s crazy looking back at me as a kid, knowing that I have actually made that dream a reality and all my work over the past five years particularly has paid off. I will be competing in my first Olympic Games, in a brand-new sport, and am hoping to win the first new gold medal for Team GB!”
Michael Beckett, 28, Solva, Pembrokeshire: “Selection for Team GB is the honour of a lifetime. I’ve watched Team GB athletes since I was a kid, not just in sailing but across all sports, it’s a lot to live up to but I’m excited by the challenge. I grew up in a small village in west Wales where the Olympic Games only really existed on the telly, so to be told I’m going there to compete is something else. To find myself selected for this team is honestly beyond what I thought was possible, but now I’ve done it I can’t wait to try and make the most of this opportunity. I’ve been part of the British Sailing Team for 10 years, almost to the day, I joined as a pretty confused 18-year-old, I thought I was good but really had no idea. The Olympic trials aren’t something people talk about much after selection, but they are a really brutal and competitive process with only one athlete selected from our whole squad. For me it’s a case of third time lucky: the first time I entered the trials I was nowhere, the second time I was close but still not the best, and this time I finally won. I have so much time for the other guys in the squad – as they can’t go to the Olympics, I’ll be representing them just as much as the rest of the country.”