From rivals to teammates: Fletcher and Bithell eyeing up World Championship gold en route to Tokyo

From rivals to teammates: Fletcher and Bithell eyeing up World Championship gold en route to Tokyo
By Sportsbeat

18/06/2018 at 23:50Updated

Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell were once rivals for a place in the British boat - now the teammates have an Olympic charge on their mind.

Only a year ago the two were battling it out to represent their country but after joining forces they have become a force to be reckoned with.

With the Olympics only two years away, the Brits are hoping a World Championship title can provide the perfect platform for success, with Aarhus their next port of call in July.

Fletcher said: "The Worlds are the most important event of the year, especially this year with it being Aarhus.

"We've seen in the past the likes of Giles Scott, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, these people dominate the cycles and win multiple World Championships.

"For sure we want to be in their position going into the Olympics where we're the most likely boat to win gold.

"We're looking to Aarhus and we really want to come away with gold, that's what all of our training is revolving around at the moment.

"Last year was the first year that we teamed up after the Rio Olympics, it was amazing – we won the Europeans and the Worlds and a few World Cups and all sorts, so it was fantastic for both of us to finally win our first World Championship.

"That was an incredible feeling and it didn't really sink in for a while."

Each with their own unique qualities on the water, Bithell believes their opposing characteristics are proving effective on the seas.

It was he who claimed the sole Olympic medal of the pair thus far, storming to 470 silver at his home Games of London 2012 alongside Luke Patience.

But Fletcher had his Olympic chance four years later, placing sixth in the 49er with Alain Sign at Rio 2016 - but for this pair, the feeling is that Tokyo 2020 could hold so much more.

"Dylan's probably one of the fiercest helmsmen I've sailed with before, in a good way," said Bithell.

"He brings a lot of aggression to the boat, very good to race with and very nice to have him on your side.

"I crew the 49er, it's a bit more of a physical role, I do a lot of work getting the sails up and down and in and out, I'm generally more athletic."

Fletcher added: "In the boat Stu's amazing, he's absolutely brilliant at making the boat go fast and keeping me level, I think that's why we teamed up and it worked so well off the bat.

"We have a bit of fun off the water with a bit of rivalry on the moth which is wicked fun. In fact, Stu is better than me at most things but the moth is just about the only thing I can just keep ahead of him at so I'm happy about that – for now."

Sportsbeat 2018