British Finn sailor and Queen Mary member Andrew Mills has made the ‘tricky decision’ to hang up his sailing boots and end his quest for Olympic gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Ashford-born sailor has decided to call time on his eight-year journey in the heavyweight dinghy class, having been offered a career opportunity outside of the sport that he couldn’t refuse.
Mills, 28, has been a central figure in the British Sailing Team’s successful Finn squad in recent years, having aided Sir Ben Ainslie as a training partner during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic cycles and with his own career highlights coming at the 2011 European Championships where he won bronze, and with regatta victory at last year’s ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres.
He also achieved five top-ten finishes at the Finn Gold Cup (the class’s World Championship), claimed a sixth place at the recent European Championship at La Rochelle last week, and outside of the Olympic Classes, is a Round the Island Race record holder with Ben Ainslie’s JPMorgan BAR.
“It has been a really tricky decision – much as it would be great to keep sailing, do what I love to do among some great friends, the time comes where you have to look at your own interests and your own future,” Mills explained.
“I feel I’ve made great progress with my sailing this cycle and think I have more to come, but when I look at the competition I am up against for the one British spot for Rio and the form Giles [Scott] is in, I don’t think I’m quite fast enough.
“Sailing for me was always going to be a first career with the intention of moving into something more permanent afterwards, and I’ve been given a really great opportunity to make one of the smoothest transitions from sport into business that you can get. It’s a one-time offer and although I’ll be sorry to be leaving the team, it’s an offer that I feel I need to take in the best interests of my longer-term career.”
Mills will continue sailing in the Finn until mid-July, aiding the British Sailing Team’s Finn squad in their preparations towards the Rio Test Event in August and September’s Santander 2014 World Championships before starting his new role in the financial services sector in late August.
“There are so many people to thank within the team for their contributions, support and expertise over the years which have been paramount to my achievements,” Mills added.
“However, I would like to say a special thanks to my family for all their support, to the RYA and UK Sport for backing and investing in me, and also to my coach Matt Howard and training partners Mark Andrews and Giles Scott.”
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented: “Andrew has been a stalwart in the Finn class for many years, and although he never achieved his dream of competing at an Olympic Games, there should be no doubt of the part he’s played in the huge successes the British Finn squad has enjoyed over recent years and for that, and his commitment and dedication, we thank him.
“I know this has been a difficult decision for Andrew, and everyone at the British Sailing Team wishes him all the very best with his future career.”
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