Tunnicliffe catches her wind
QINGDAO, China - Anna Tunnicliffe of the United States came from behind in the final to win the women's sailing Laser Radial class yesterday.
"It hasn't really hit," said British-born Tunnicliffe, 25, with a huge American flag draped over her shoulders after the first US sailing gold of these Games.
Tunnicliffe, who moved to the US with her family at the age of 12 and later became a citizen, had enough points in nine preliminary race to assure her at least a medal after the final, which counts double. Early in the race, it looked like she would be lucky to get silver.
"It was a little too exciting," she told the AP just after the finish. "I had a really bad start. It was very hard to focus when my competitors were gaining points on me."
At the end of the first of four legs in the medal race, she was eighth out of the 10 boats that made the final, and at end of the next leg she was next-to-last. Then, heading up on the third leg, she spotted a wind shift and set off on a different course than most of the fleet.
"I wasn't winning at that point and I saw this big left puff, and I went like, 'Here goes.' I had to. I mean I was guaranteed a medal, and that meant a lot, so it was a risk worth taking," she said. "I went left and moved to the front of the fleet."
The gamble paid off. And the end of the third leg, she had climbed to No. 3, and gained one more spot on the final leg to finish second, behind Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania.
Volungeviciute earned the first Olympic sailing medal (silver) for her country, and seemed bewildered by the rush of media attention, telling Chinese officials "I need to change clothes" and moving away from the reporters. "It's procedure," said the official, leading her back to the media zone.
"I worked very hard for this," she said. "I am also very happy." (AP)