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Shirley Robertson is one of Britain’s and Scotland’s greatest ever Olympians. This year she won her second consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games. Shirley and her crew won Great Britain’s first gold medal of 2004 on her debut in the Yngling class.
Shirley started sailing at the age of 7 in a Mirror Miracle which her father built from a kit in the garage of their home in Clackmannanshire, Scotland and they sailed on Loch Ard in the Trossachs. She very quickly got the bug and her quest for an Olympic gold medal started after she graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1990.
Robertson sailed in the Europe class at the 1992 Barcelona Games finishing ninth, improving to fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Games where she was edged out of the medals by American Courtenay Becker-Day by two points.
However, by the late 1990s she was one of the top Europe class racers in the world, having won silver medals at the 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Championships. Her excellent form continued into the Millennium Olympic Games in Sydney where she won her first Olympic gold medal holding off Margriet Matthysse of the Netherlands in a tense final race to become the first British woman ever to win an Olympic sailing gold medal.
Following her incredible success in 2000, Shirley decided she needed a new challenge. In 2001 she switched to the new Yngling class and formed a crew of Sarah Ayton (her training partner for Sydney) and Inga Leask, and finished 14 th at World Championships. Over the next two years they improved rapidly especially on the Olympic regatta course, finishing third at the 2002 Olympic Test Event and winning the 2003 Pre-Olympic regatta.
Unfortunately in May 2003 Leask had to leave the boat due to health reasons so Shirley quickly recruited Sarah Webb as a replacement. Never taking her eye off the ultimate goal of Olympic gold in Athens, Shirley and her new crew began their training for the Games.
Their excellent form continued into the Olympic regatta and in the mixed conditions of the Saronic Gulf they showed their superior skills by winning from start to finish, fending off tough competition from the Danish and Ukraines to win Team GB’s first Gold with a day to spare.
In 2000 Shirley was voted ISAF 2000 World Female of the Year and she was awarded an MBE for her services to British Sailing. After the 2000 Games, Robertson took a short break from sailing and married Jamie Boag in June 2001.
Shirley is an excellent corporate speaker and ambassador. She has worked with blue-chip companies such as BT and Volvo, who have used her for team building / corporate entertainment facility programs as well as for motivational talking at sales conferences and award ceremonies. She has also worked as a presenter and commenter within sailing.
Sailing career to date:
2004 – Olympic Regatta – Gold Medal
2004 - Women’s Europe class - Olympic Qualifier – 1 st Place
2003 – Pre-Olympics, Athens – Gold Medal
2003 – SPA Olympic Class Regatta, Holland – Bronze medal
2003 – Olympic Class Week, Hyeres – 4th
2003 – Princess Sophia Trophy, Palma – Gold Medal
2003 – Olympic Class Week, Barcelona – Gold Medal
2002 – Olympic Test Event, Athens – Bronze Medal
2002 – Yngling World Championships – 16th
2001 – Yngling World Championships – 14th
2000 – Olympic Games, Sydney – Gold Medal
2000 – Europe World Championships – Silver Medal
1999 – Pre-Olympic Regatta, Sydney – Bronze Medal
1999 – Europe European Championships – Silver Medal
1999 – Europe World Championships – Bronze medal
1998 – Europe World Championships – Silver medal
1996 – Olympic Games, Savannah– 4th
1992 – Olympic Games, Barcelona– 9th