August 19, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 19, 2008

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QINGDAO, CHINA -- Anna Tunnicliffe ('05), in her first ever Olympic appearance, brought home Olympic Gold for the United States with a win of the Laser Radial sailing class on Tuesday. After a tough medal race where she fought all the way forward from the back of the fleet, Tunnicliffe became the first American to win the Gold and the second American medalist in the sailing events this year. She also became the first Monarch alum to win a medal in the 2008 Olympic Games.

The medal race did not start as well as Anna would have hoped. She heard at least one boat get called for an early start, so as a precaution, she spun back to start again, just in case. By the first turn, she found herself in ninth out of 10 boats on the water and had a lot of work to do for anything better than bronze.

With most of the fleet staying close to the seawall on the right side, she found a breeze to the left with two other boats, the eventual bronze and silver medalists. It was a risky move, but necessary if she wanted to make any headway. With the wind, she started picking off the competition boat-by-boat, rounding the final mark in third place. The final leg was all that separated her from the gold and she raced down the course for a second place finish and the Gold Medal.

"I can tell you the finish line couldn't arrive fast enough," she said. "As I got the gun, I was so happy and so proud to win for my country. It was overwhelming."

Anna, who didn't win a single race in her quest for Gold, was incredibly consistent throughout the week of sailing. She finished lower than 6th only once and grabbed eight top five finishes including three seconds in the final three heats. She finished five points ahead of Gintare Volungeviciute (Lithuania) for second and 13 points ahead of China's Lijia Xu for third.

Final Results - Laser Radial Class

Name (Country)                          R1   R2   R3   R4   R5   R6   R7   R8   R9   MR   TOT   NET
1. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)                4    5    6    5    6    3   15    2    2     4   52    37
2. Gintare Volungeviciute (Lithuania)    3   13    8    1    1    4  (21)   6    4     2   63    42
3. Lijia Xu (China)                    (24)   3   10    6    5    2    1   11    6     6   74    50
4. Sarah Blanck (Australia)              6   11    7  (19)   4   12    8    1    5     8   81    62
5. Sarah Steyaert (France)              11    1   21    3  (29)   1    3   10    11   16  106    77
6. Nathalie Brugger (Switzerland)       15    8    9  (20)   8   10   10    8    9    10  112    90
7. Jo Aleh (New Zealand)               (22)   4    2    2    2   14   14   14   20   18   112    90
8. Evi Van Acker (Belgium)               1   10   16   10   12    6   12    4  (18)   20  109    91
9. Katarzyna Szotynska (Poland)          5   21   11  (24)  21    5    2   20   12   12   133   109
10. Penny Clark (Great Britain)          2   22    1   22    3   17   18  (23)  13   14   135   112

From US Sailing: After winning her medal she was rushed to doping control and TV cameras, given a quick second to change clothes and mobbed by local staff looking for pictures with her. Then at the medal ceremony it finally hit her. She said, "When I walked in, I teared up and thought, `This is for real.'" She was so stricken she forgot to sing her anthem. Then, as she sat in the pre-press conference quarantine room she took pictures with her escorts, signed shirts, signed the city log book and signed about twenty autographs for city officials. Halfway through the autographs she paused and held her breath. Asked what was wrong, she said, "It's just sinking in."

Tunnicliffe is a 2005 graduate of ODU. She was a three-time Collegiate sailing All-American and three-time ICSA Singlhanded national champion. In 2005, Tunnicliffe was named Quantum Collegiate Women's Sailor of the Year and the ODU Alumni Association's Female Athlete of the Year. Gold Medal: Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
Silver Medal: Gintare Volungeviciute (Lithuania)
Bronze Medal: Lijia Xu (China)