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'Tenacious’ Bristol graduate achieves decades-long Olympic dream

James Peters and teammate Fynn Sterritt sailing in the 2020 World Cup SeriesSailing Energy

James was among the first athletes selected for Paris. This photo comes from the official selection announcementTeam GB

James and Fynn celebrating a win in 2018Sailing Energy

Press release issued: 19 October 2023

University of Bristol alumnus James Peters has been selected for the 2024 Olympic Games, realising a dream that has been nearly two decades in the making.

As a young sailor James ruled the waves, picking up a slew of national and international medals and even bagging a nomination for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

After an “amazing” three years at the University of Bristol, a spell as a training partner in the Rio Games cycle and two World Cup golds in 2018 and 2019, he and partner Fynn Sterritt looked odds on for Tokyo 2020.

But at Team GB selection they were pipped by Stuart Bithell and Dylan Fletcher, who went on to win gold in Japan.

Now James and Fynn have been selected for Paris in the 49er class – named after the boats’ 4.9-metre hulls. They were among the first Team GB athletes to be selected for the games.

“It was an awesome feeling,” James, aged 31, said.  “We had to step back and remember how important it is after all the effort we’ve put in.

“People have been through all kinds of battles and journeys to get to selection, there’s so much talent but only one representative from each class. Sometimes it’s harder to get selected than it is to medal at the Olympics.

“I don’t think I’ll do another campaign, so I just want to give this everything. I don’t want to leave a stone unturned and I’ll be blocking out all distractions.

“We’re going for gold in Paris.”

After missing out on Tokyo, James spent nearly two years working as a consultant for Deloitte in London.

But, he says, he always knew he would be back.

“In sport you do a hell of a lot of winning and a hell of a lot of losing. You learn a level of humility,” James said.

“In 2017 we won lots of major regattas, by 2018 we were ranked number 1 in the world - we felt it was our [Olympic] cycle. But we were beaten in the trials by Stu and Dylan, who did the country proud.

“You never achieve success without the hard yards and the failures.”

The Paris Games begin on July 26, 2024, with the sailing taking place in Marseille Marina. Until then, James’ training will be “all consuming”.

He said: “We have to make sure we’re psychologically in a place where we can make the split second decisions we need to and that our communication and teamwork is where it needs to be, to get as close as we can to perfection.”

James studied for a Physics degree at the University of Bristol between 2011 and 2014.

Matt Birch, Director of Sport, Exercise and Health at the University of Bristol, said: “James has seemingly endless supplies of talent and tenacity and it’s been fantastic to see just how much he’s achieved since graduating.

“From everyone at the University we would like to congratulate James on his selection and wish him the best of luck at Paris.”

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