'I'm proud to be Irish, I'll always be Irish' - Olympic sailor Saskia Tidey switches allegiances to Britain
Irish sailor Saskia Tidey has switched allegiances to Britain and will aim to represent Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Tidey, alongside her partner Andrea Brewster, finished in 12th place for Ireland in the Rio Olympics but since then the latter has moved on to coaching, prompting Tidey to make the switch to Britain. She has already started training with Charlotte Dobson and hopes to compete compete in the 49er FX event in Tokyo 2020.
Tidey took to Twitter to say: "Sad day leaving Irish 49 er FX Sailing.Thankful to @ISA_Performance for helping me become the sailor I am today #newchapter #newchallenge."
Tidey told the Irish Times that she had no option but to leave Team Ireland and insisted that there was no direct approach from Team GB.
“Once a class becomes established, experience counts more than anything else,” Tidey told the Times.
“I think that myself, along with Charlotte Dobson, gives us a strong combination going forward to achieve what we both individually want.
“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.
“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."
The 23-year-old added that she "is proud to be Irish and will always be Irish" while the Irish Sailing Association expressed its disappointment.
“It’s regrettable that Saskia has decided to pursue her sailing career with another country but, that said, the ISA wish her the best of luck with her future endeavours,” said ISA performance director James O’Callaghan.
“She’s a good example of what can be achieved from a managed programme as she came up through the academy and, along with Andrea Brewster, put in a fantastic performance at the Rio Olympics. We were hoping to build on that, but it’s not to be.”