Who are the Dorset athletes at the Tokyo Olympics?
- Credit: Nick Dempsey/RYA
So, who are the Dorset athletes representing Team GB at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo? As Dorset is the home of the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, host of the sailing events in the 2012 Olympics and a venue which offers world class training facilities, it’s no surprise to learn that most of the Dorset contingent are going to be out on the water in Enoshima Yacht Harbour. For some this will be their third Olympic Games, for others their first. And for one of them, they are following in the footsteps of their Olympian mother who blazed a trail back in the 1990s.
Sailor, Hannah Mills MBE, was the joint flag bearer for Team GB with rower Mohamed Sbihi at the opening ceremony in Tokyo. Based in Poole, 33-year-old Mills draws on two previous Olympics. She previously won silver in the Women’s 470 class at the 2012 Olympics in the waters off Weymouth with her long-term sailing partner Saskia Clark. The dynamic duo followed that up with gold in the same event in Rio four years later.
When Clark retired from Olympic racing, Mills teamed up with Eilidh McIntyre in early 2017. In their first outing they won the World Cup Series final in Santander, Spain, followed by silver at the 470 World Championships. A gold medal for Mills at Tokyo 2020 would make her the world’s most successful female Olympic sailor.
Women’s 470 event: Heats July 28 – 30 & August 1-2/ Medal Race August 4
Summer 2021 is going to be a busy time for 33-year-old Dylan Fletcher and his fiancée – fellow Team GB sailor, 35-year-old Charlotte Dobson. Just weeks after they return from competing in the Men’s 49er and Women’s 49erFX events at the Tokyo Games, the pair are getting married in Dorset – the county which has been Fletcher’s home since 2009.
Fletcher and Dobson, who both competed at the 2016 Olympics, live in Fortuneswell - a village just a stone’s throw from the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy. They class themselves as ‘extremely lucky’ to have access to its world class facilities. And both are hoping for improvements to their last showings five-years-ago at the Rio Games.
Dobson, who was born in Glasgow, was taught to sail by her parents' best friends when she was just seven. Originally specialising in single-handed dinghies, Dobson campaigned the Laser Radial for two Olympic cycles before switching to the high-performance 49erFX skiff ahead of Rio 2016. Dobson and her then-crew Sophie Ainsworth were Britain’s number one choice for Rio, where they finished eighth.
Now she's teamed up with Irish-born Saskia Tidey (28) who represented Ireland at Rio 2016 in the 49erFX, finishing 12th. Eligible to compete for Team GB through her father Don, Tidey joined the British Sailing Team in 2017, and since then Dobson and Tidey have proved a formidable force on the Olympic circuit, bagging silver medals at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Final and the 49erFX European Championships.
Fletcher and his then-teammate Alain Sign finished sixth in the Men’s 49er event in Rio. Now paired with 2012 Olympic silver medallist Stuart Bithell (35), who also lives in Portland, the duo is hoping to bring back something shiny from Southeast Asia.
Alison Young, who is based in Portland, was very much on home waters when she made her Olympic debut in 2012 in the Women’s Laser Radial Class finishing fifth. The sailing events for the London Games were held at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, where the Worcestershire-born, University of Southampton graduate has trained since 2008.
In the run-up to Rio, Young made history by becoming the first British woman ever to win gold at an Olympic class world championships, she was one of the favourites to land a medal going into the Rio Games in 2016 but her preparations were hampered by a broken ankle, sustained just eight weeks prior to competition getting underway. She ultimately finished eighth the Women’s Laser Radial class.
Five years on, the 34-year-olds biggest focus is on delivering the best performance she can in the Tokyo Games and to finally claim that medal. Signs are good that she will achieve this.
Women’s Laser Radial event: Heats July 25-27 & 29-30/ Medal Race August 1
From sailing to windsurfing and 22-year-old Emma Wilson from Christchurch, who is hoping to build on her silver medal success at the RS:X European Championships in 2019 and claim a medal in her first Olympics.
Her mother, Penny Wilson (née Way), also competed for Team GB in the windsurfing events at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. Follow Emma on Twitter
Women’s RS:X event: Heats July 25,26,28& 29/ Medal Race July 31
From sea to pool with Jacob Peters who is competing for Team GB in the 100m butterfly. Born in Guildford, Surrey in 2000, Peters moved to Poole as a six-year-old and started swimming lessons at Haymoor Middle School soon after. His passion for the sport saw him join Poole Swimming Club at the age of nine, for whom he went on to win a silver medal with at the 2017 Swim England National Winter Championships. That same year, the former Poole Grammar School pupil, finished seventh in the Men’s 200 Fly Final at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships before achieving one his greatest sporting achievements to date - a gold medal in the men’s 4x100m medley event at the 2018 European Aquatics Championships in Glasgow.
Peters, who turns 21 on August 20, has been training at the University of Bath for the last year, says he is in his best form at the moment and is confident that he will make it to the final at the Olympic Aquatics Centre in Tokyo. He would also love to be in 4x100 medley.
Follow Jacob on Twitter
Men’s 100m butterfly: Heats July 29/ Semi-finals July 30/ Final July 31
The Olympic Games run between July 23 and August 8; the Paralympic Games will be staged between August 24 and September 5.