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Sailor who learned at Rudyard among first named for GB squad

The first athletes selected to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 for Team GB have been announced – and include a Congleton man.

John Gimson and Anna Burnet have been selected for the mixed multihull, Nacra 17 in the sailing events.

Mr Gimson, who was born in Leicester, later moved to Congleton and learned to sail at Rudyard Lake.

Tokyo 2020 silver medal winners Mr Gimson and Ms Burnet – who are also a couple off the water – won bronze in the mixed multihull fleet at the Olympic test event in July, followed by second place at the World Championships in August to secure their spot.

Ms Burnet said: “I’ve been mad about sport my whole life I wanted to go to the Olympic Games before I even knew what sport I would try to go in.

“Going to Tokyo was a dream come true, but it still feels quite surreal. Now to be selected for Team GB for my second Olympics is pretty crazy… more than I ever dreamed!” Mr Gimson’s youth career yielded silver medals at the World and European Championships and his CV also features a 2013 Americas Cup appearance, as well eight years racing keelboats.

After sailing at Rudyard Lake Sailing Club Mr Gimson got the racing bug. In his younger years he was the youth national champion in the 29er class and won silver medals at the world and European Championships. He showed versatility as a sail racer, also winning the 420 class National title and paving the way for a senior career.

Mr Gimson spent eight years racing keelboats to fund his early Olympic aspirations.

He raced as a helmsman/tactician on several successful campaigns in boats ranging from the Melges 24 to the TP52. He finished fourth at the Etchells World Championships and won multiple championships, including the Etchells British and European Championships and Cowes Week.

After a brief stint in the 470 and Tornado classes, Mr Gimson took his keelboat sailing experience into the Star class. He showed potential with some strong results and was quickly taken under the wing of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson for the London 2012 Olympic cycle.

Unfortunately for Mr Gimson, the Star was dropped as an Olympic class following London 2012, but this made way for a transition to the mixed multihull Nacra 17 class. During this period Mr Gimson also joined the Artemis Racing America’s Cup team and sailed the AC45, the team’s first foiling boat, in the build-up to the 2013 Americas Cup.

He teamed up with Anna Burnet at the end of 2016 and they have proven to be a winning pair, notching up with a number of world-class performances.

In 2018 the team won gold at Kiel Week and went on to qualify the nation’s spot in the Olympic Games.

British Sailing has also selected Freya Black and Saskia Tidey to compete in 49erFX; James Peters and Fynn Sterritt in 49er; Michael Beckett in the one-person dinghy, ILCA 7; Emma Wilson and Sam Sills in the women’s and men’s iQFOiL windsurfing discipline, respectively; and Ellie Aldridge in women’s formula kit surfing.

The sailing events at Paris 2024 take place at the Marseille Marina from 28th July to 8th August.

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