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470 Junior World glory for Bristol student

4 August 2008

Hannah Mills, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Bristol, and her partner, Katrina Hughes, have won the 2008 Women’s Junior World Championship in sailing (470 class).

The event took place in Gdynia, Poland at the end of July, with the pair taking the title by a margin of 14 points over their nearest rivals, from Spain. Another Bristol student, Claire Walsh, came eighth in the event with her partner, Jasmin Husband.

Both Mills and Walsh are members of the University’s High Performance Squad, which aims to help talented student athletes continue with their sporting careers without compromising their academic progress.

This is the first year that the 470 (double-handed dinghy) class of the Junior World Championship has been separated into Men’s/Mixed and Women’s events. In the past, the competition has always taken place in one mixed fleet, but the increasing number of participating women’s crews over the past few years, and the desire to make under 22 women’s sailing more transparent, have led to the decision to create separate events. ‘I feel pretty good, quite relieved,’ said Mills. ‘Racing against the boys is exciting, but in a separate event you have a better overview of who your opponents are – now, and for the future.’

Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes started sailing 470s together at the end of 2006, when Mills had already built a reputation in the 420s. In 2007, they won the 470 Junior Women’s European Championship, just the second International 470 Championship they had competed in. Mills is now setting her sights on the 2012 Olympics.

Bob Reeves, Director of Sport at the University’s Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health, said: ‘This is fantastic news for Hannah and Claire, and it confirms the University’s reputation as a centre of excellence for sailing. Iain Percy, a former student and member of the High Performance Squad, who won a Gold Medal in the Finn Dinghy class in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, may find his record challenged in the 2012 Games.’

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