Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are within touching distance of 470 Women’s Olympic gold as they head into tomorrow’s final Medal Race showdown (Wednesday 16 August).
Two thirds and a second from the 470 Women’s three races inside Guanabara Bay means that Mills and Clark have a 20-point advantage over their nearest challengers, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL).
This means that to upgrade their London 2012 silver to Rio 2016 gold, the Brits just have to successfully complete the double points Medal Race without disqualification.
It has been a remarkable series from Mills and Clark, who have picked up three race wins and no score higher than eighth from their 10 races. Now they have to go out, keep their noses clean and finish the job.
Mills: “It’s disbelief, I didn’t trust Joe, our coach, that he got the points right and it took a while, it still hasn’t sunk in! You try not to let it affect you too much, but we knew if we beat all our main rivals in that last race we would be guaranteed the gold.
“That obviously goes through your head a bit, especially as the wind started to die and it got a bit more wacky. Tensions were high but I’m absolutely shocked, stunned and so relieved. We need to not mess up, be solid and just get round the course.”
Clark continued: “We’ve been really consistent and solid all week, there was a really nice breeze out there, 10-13 knots, and that probably settled our nerves a bit as we know we are one of the fastest in those conditions. We just bashed in three solid races and kept a track of our competitors.
“We want to get around the racecourse in good shape, I think we’ve managed to keep a lid on it all week when we have needed to and today was a great example of that. As each race went passed we were like ‘it’s still about this next race, nothing is won, nothing is lost right now.’ Let’s just race solid and do what we need to do.”
Racing on the Ponte course, Mills and Clark went into today’s races four points ahead of Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA). But it was the Kiwi London 2012 champions, Aleh and Powrie, who ended up proving the biggest threat to the Brits gold medal charge, with two bullets and a fourth in today’s races.
In London Mills and Clark went into the final Medal Race with the chance to take gold from the Kiwis, with the Aleh and Powrie coming out on top in that battle. Now the Brits are delighted to have reversed the roles.
Mills said: “We really felt we could have won the gold in London, we were absolutely gutted not to and that is what these four years have been about.
“I remember standing on the podium and thinking ‘I just really want the anthem. We know the words!’ This Olympics especially, there has been so many gold medallists from Team GB and you watch them at the medal ceremony and they are up on the podium with the anthem playing and that feeling is what you desperately, desperately want for yourself. I can’t wait.”
Clark added: “I’m going to sleep really well!”
The 470 Women’s Medal Race is scheduled to take place on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf) course at 5pm BST.
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photos Janos Schmidt