Olympic champion sailor Eilidh McIntyre retires

head shot of Eilidh

Last summer McIntyre fulfilled her lifelong dream of winning a gold medal at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, cemented her place in sport’s history books.

The 28-year-old topped the podium in the women’s 470 class alongside Hannah Mills, and in doing so matched the gold medal won by her father Mike 34 years prior at Seoul 1988.

The win also helped Mills to become the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time.

For the Paris 2024 cycle the 470 class moved to mixed gender pairs, with McIntyre teaming up with Martin Wrigley, a training partner for Luke Patience and Chris Grube for Tokyo.

The pair finished inside the top ten at every event they’ve competed at, but McIntyre said she had come to the decision that she was not on course to win gold at Paris 2024.

McIntyre, from Hayling Island, Hants, said: “I woke up in 2023 feeling pretty sick. I did a lot of soul searching and had a lot of conversations with people I really value, and I’ve come to the decision to step away from Olympic sailing.

“It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly. I’ve loved the last 13 years doing this, and winning a gold medal at Tokyo was the absolute highlight of my career.

“But for me the Olympics is about fighting it out for the win, and I want to be at the Olympics to do that. I don’t believe that in the timeframe of this Olympic cycle that it’s something I’m able to do, so I’m choosing to step away.”

posed shot of two Olympians receiving their medals

McIntyre’s retirement brings to a close a stellar 13-year career with the British Sailing Team, having joined the ranks in 2010 as a talented 15-year-old.

A 470 sailor for her entire time with the British Sailing Team, McIntyre tasted early success came alongside Sophie Weguelin, the duo picking up medals at big regattas like the European Championships, Princess Sofia Regatta and World Sailing’s World Cup Miami.

The pair pushed Mills and her then partner Saskia Clark hard during the selection trials for Rio 2016, just missing out on the one spot with Team GB.

With Mills looking for a new crew after Rio, McIntyre plucked up the courage to phone her and suggest they teamed up. The rest is history.

McIntyre and Mills won their first outing together – the 2017 World Cup Final in Santander – before following it up with a silver at the 2017 World Championship.

It was the start of a formidable partnership with numerous medals, including gold at the 2019 World Championship, and culminating in the ultimate prize at Tokyo 2020.

In the aftermath, McIntyre and Mills were named 2021 Rolex World Sailors of the Year. McIntyre was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Years Honours for services to sailing.

McIntyre’s compelling story of success at the Tokyo Olympics is covered in the feature documentary Chasing Tokyo, released last summer.

She and other key Team GB sailors allowed cameras to follow their every moves through the rollercoaster of the Covid pandemic to Tokyo 2020 and

The 90-minute film can be streamed for free at Olympics.com or watched on Discovery+ with a subscription.

McIntyre now plans to explore opportunities in professional sailing, while also starting a property business alongside her sister.

McIntyre and her father Mike will be talking candidly about their Olympic journeys at the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show at Farnborough International on February 25.

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