New film Chasing Tokyo set to further enhance sailor Mills' Olympic profile

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Mills, 34, is the most successful female Olympic sailor of all-time
Mills, 34, is the most successful female Olympic sailor of all-time

By Milly McEvoy

Sailor Hannah Mills enjoys the anonymity of being able to walk down the street but that might change with the release of the new Olympic Channel documentary ‘Chasing Tokyo’.

Mills, the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time, was keen to have the defence of her Olympic title captured in all its cinematic glory as cameras followed the British Sailing Team for 18 months up to Tokyo 2020.

The 34-year-old, who boasts two Olympic golds and a silver, happily goes unrecognised in her native Cardiff as she benefits from sailing’s understated nature despite its pedigree as one of Britain’s best-performing sports.

“I obviously get recognised at sailing clubs and that type of thing, but it is not quite the same just walking down the street. It's kind of great, I have to say,” said Mills, speaking ahead of the film – released on July 28 – that documents the exploits of the British Sailing Team.

“I think often in life you don't get to document that well the big, big things that you do and so, to me, it was great.

“It’s awesome that we'll have some memories of everything in a really nice compact way. I think, for me, it was like ‘cool, this is an awesome idea’

“And also, it's such an unknown story, at the start of the pandemic, and then what was going to happen, no one really knew, so it was just a cool opportunity.”

‘Chasing Tokyo’ follows Mills and her partner Eilidh McIntyre in their pursuit of the women’s 470 title – Mills’ second in a row and McIntyre’s first as she looked to match her dad Michael who was Olympic champion in 1988.

And while McIntyre declared it her life goal to win Olympic gold, it put no more extra pressure on Mills, who was chasing her own achievement as the best Olympic female sailor ever seen.

She added: “I definitely never really felt that. I think I was just so focused on us both, individually and together, being able to deliver our best performance at the Games and so, whatever happened, we can look back and be proud of what we did.

“There's so many uncontrollables in sailing so there's never a guarantee and you have to appreciate that, so I didn't really feel that.

“I do remember coming back through the gates at Heathrow and all our families were there, but her mum and dad were there.

“Her mum just gave me such a big hug and she said something like 'thank you so much for helping her achieve her dreams'.

“It was just really nice, I'm glad she didn't say that before!”

Mills has since retired from Olympic sailing and is now managing the women’s and youth America’s Cup teams as well as serving as SailGP’s Global Purpose ambassador, with sustainability a top priority for the Tokyo opening ceremony flagbearer.

Sailing has taken a backseat since the Olympics with Mills now preparing for the birth of her first child in October, but she hopes her Olympic legacy and new projects can inspire the next generation of sailing superstars.

“For me, it's inspiring others through sport," Mills said. "There are amazing wellbeing benefits from doing sport and being in teams and what you learn.

“But then also, what sport can do in terms of wider society around the environment and sustainability and women and young girls feeling confident and getting rid of that imposter syndrome, which we all feel sometimes, I know I do.

“That confidence that we can and should achieve our dreams and people that say we can't, we need to not listen to them anymore.”

Watch Chasing Tokyo at Olympics.com

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