Sailor Hughes targeting gold medals not silver screen in Los Angeles

·3-min read
Alex Hughes, left, has now teamed up with Charlotte Leigh as they look ahead to Los Angeles 2028
Alex Hughes, left, has now teamed up with Charlotte Leigh as they look ahead to Los Angeles 2028

Alex Hughes has his sights set on Los Angeles, not to be a star of the silver screen but to be an Olympian at the 2028 Games.

The 22-year-old from Birmingham is currently proving himself as part of the British Sailing Team, forging a new partnership in the mixed 470 class with Charlotte Leigh.

And with reigning women’s Olympic champion Eilidh McIntyre teaming up with Martin Wrigley in the same discipline, Hughes has decided to target LA instead of the upcoming Paris Games.

“We'd love to love to go to Paris ‘24,” the University of Plymouth student said ahead of the upcoming World and European Championships.

“But with a shorter cycle with Tokyo being pushed back a year, and with Charlie being new to the boat and us being a new partnership, and then the solid partnerships that already exist in our class with Martin, the guy I sailed with, teaming up with Eilidh, Tokyo gold medallist, it's not realistic for us to think that we will go to Paris.

“So, it's a lot more for us being able to say 'okay, we've got the time now to look at 2028' and build a full programme around that instead of rushing and trying to skip steps to try and get 2024 when it's not realistic for us to aspire to.”

Hughes spent the build-up to Tokyo 2020 alongside Wrigley as training partners to Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men’s 470, with the latter pair finishing fifth in Japan.

To further his Olympic aspirations, Weymouth-based Hughes teamed up with Leigh as he looked to play the long game to Olympic glory.

And with Leigh new to the class, Hughes has relished taking on the senior role in the partnership.

He added: “We only actually started sailing together three or four months ago now. But it's really, really good, I’m really enjoying it.

“And it's a fresh thing for me going from partnerships where I've been the younger, less experienced person.

“Now I'm the more experienced person in the boat and so I’m having to teach and manage what we do, I've really enjoyed it.

“I think it's been good for me as a person, to have that responsibility over what we do in that programme and doing what I think is best while also taking into consideration what Charlie thinks is best.”

Hughes, who first fell in love with the sport at Sutton Sailing Club, has been praised by those around the British Sailing Team for his work ethic and is often described as one of the hardest working members of the team.

It is something which takes him by surprise, although he did concede that his focus is always on what he can do to improve.

He said: “I’m amazed to hear that from people but to me, I don't go out of my way to be professional and hardworking.

“I think that's just something that you should be as a professional athlete.

“I think I'm one of the younger people in the team and I quite clearly know what I'm good at and also know what I need to improve on.

“And I spend a lot of time trying to improve the things that I know I'm not good at.”

The British Sailing Team are the most successful national Olympic sailing team of all time and will proudly fly the flag for Great Britain at Paris 2024