Team Jolly is over: Olympic star Polly Powrie retires bringing an end to a golden partnership with Jo Aleh

Team Jolly is no more. One of the great New Zealand Olympic partnerships has come to an end, with yachtie Polly Powrie announcing her retirement from top level sailing.

While comrade Jo Aleh still wants to compete at the Japan Games in 2020, the 29-year-old Powrie could no longer commit to another arduous campaign.

The Auckland pair won silver in the 470s at Rio last year to go with their gold medal triumph in London four years earlier. They have also been giants at the world championships, with two golds, three silvers and a bronze over the past decade.

Listen: Polly Powrie on Radio Sport

Powrie said: "I have been mulling it over for the last few months. Jo and I have achieved possibly everything we could have. I had to ask the question, 'was I excited about going again and did I still feel like there was a challenge to achieve?'.

"I also had to take family into consideration and decided it was time to move on and experience different things and challenge myself in different ways.

"Jo and I worked in four-year cycles with the Olympics being the major goal, so to win gold and silver was a real highlight, but it was often the things we achieved which weren't always publicly visible which brought a lot of satisfaction.

"We have been so reliant on each other it will be strange having some distance but we will always be a part of each other's lives."

She also thanked their coach saying: "Nathan Handley was with us for the whole time and was an integral part of our success. He was so loyal and provided a huge amount of support."

The 30-year-old Aleh said "it's a bit sad it's over but I support whatever she wants to do.

"I had a great eight years with Polly. I know her so well, so it's a bit sad it's over but I support whatever she wants to do.

"We spoke about it after the Games. She wasn't sure if she was going to continue and I wasn't sure either."

Powrie had difficulty telling her mate the news.

Powrie said: "I was definitely a bit nervous telling Jo as we've had such a tight partnership but she understands the demands of what it takes to achieve at that level and the impact it has on you mentally and physically."

Powrie, who has a business degree, is working in the property industry and intends to coach and be a weekend racer.

Aleh, who has just sailed in the Sydney to Hobart race, is taking a year's break from the 470 class to refresh for her next Olympic campaign. One of her targets is the Volvo Ocean race.

Powrie and Alex first united for the 420 world championships in New Zealand in 2007, before going on to Olympic glory.

Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie praised Powrie's influence.

"Polly and Jo produced some terrific results together and have been an inspiration to young sailors not only in New Zealand but also around the world by putting sailing, and in particular women's sailing, on the map," he said.

- NZ Herald

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