IRISH sailor Saskia Tidey has announced she has left the Irish Olympic sailing team to join the British Sailing Team in the hopes of competing in the Tokyo 2020 games.
Dublin native Saskia Tidey, 23, took to Twitter to break the news on Friday, January 6.
“Sad day leaving Irish 49 er [sic] FX Sailing,” she wrote, “Thankful to @ISA_Performance for helping me become the sailor I am today.”
Ms Tidey was half of Ireland’s first female 49er skiff FX sailing team at the Rio Olympics with Briton Andrea Brewster, who has retired from the sport.
The pair placed 12th overall in Rio and narrowly missed out on a place in the medal race final.
As her partner had retired from sailing, Tidey told The Irish Times that there wasn’t another girl in Ireland who could sail at the same level as she finished up at the Rio Olympic Games.
She also announced that she will be training for Tokyo 2020 with Charlotte Dobson from the British team, who also competed at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“There wasn’t an option here in Ireland in the 49er FX with another girl who had the experience to sail at the same level that I had finished up at [in Rio], to be competitive and win a medal in 2020,” she said.
“The 49er FX is a very specific boat and it takes a vast amount of time and commitment, full-time commitment, to even get to the level we got to.
“Once a class becomes established, experience counts more than anything else,” she said, “I think that myself, along with Charlotte Dobson, gives us a strong combination going forward to achieve what we both individually want.”
“It’s not been easy personally for me,” added Ms Tidey.
“I’m so proud to be Irish, I will always be Irish, and I absolutely couldn’t have been prouder to represent Ireland at Rio 2016.
“I’m grateful for what has happened, but now [am looking forward to] four years of 100 per cent focus on performance.”
A spokeswoman from the Irish Sailing Association said: “Saskia Tidey will no longer sail for the Irish Olympic Sailing team, and has moved to the British Sailing Team.
“Whilst we are sad to see her go, we wish Saskia the very best in her future endeavours.”
Saskia has become a member of the British Sailing Team, not Team GB, which is the team ultimately selected to compete for the British Olympic Association at the Olympic Games.
A spokeswoman for British Sailing Team said: “Saskia’s decision to switch nationalities was of her own volition following her previous partner’s retirement from competition after the Rio 2016 Games, and she has been granted eligibility from World Sailing to compete for Great Britain.
“As a British passport holder, once eligible to compete for Great Britain, Saskia also became eligible for consideration for inclusion in the RYA’s World Class Programme.
“This eligibility in itself does not automatically ensure a place within the British Sailing Team squad, but Saskia’s sailing profile, results history and a current requirement within our team means she has been accepted to train and compete alongside Charlotte Dobson in the 49erFX class at the present time.
“All sailor places within the British Sailing Team are subject to a satisfactory performance plan and attainment to specified targets. Saskia is currently training with the team in Cadiz and we welcome her to the British Sailing Team ranks.”
The 23-year-old qualifies for British citizenship as her father Don Tidey is a British national.