Shirley made it into the history books by becoming the first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals at consecutive Games – a long way from when she first started sailing aged seven in a dinghy built by her father.
Shirley collected silver medals at the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Europe Class World Championships and competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games and 1996 Atlanta Games. When the Olympics came around in 2000, Shirley proved that she’d mastered the Europe class by winning gold in Sydney. The top spot on the podium came again four years later at the Athens Olympics when her crew in the Yngling class clinched gold. She topped this off with an OBE in 2005, following her MBE in 2000.
Shirley also experienced success with a new challenge in the iShares Cup in 2008. As the only female skipper competing in the five-race series, she successfully won the first event on the circuit in Lugano, Switzerland. She returned to the iShares Cup in 2009, followed by the Extreme Sailing Series in Asia.