Countdown: Less than 24 hours remain until Shelter Island native Amanda Clark-Nissen (racing as Amanda Clark) and teammate Sarah Lihan compete in the Two Person Women 470 Class at the 2012 Olympic site in Weymouth, England.
For Team GO SAIL, Clark and Lihan’s 2012 Olympic Campaign, the London dream has been a longtime coming. Ranked third in their class, the duo will begin their quest for the gold on Friday, August 3.
And luckily, beating the odds is something the two are accustomed to doing—a tradition that began just over a year ago when they partnered for the first time and had a mere three months to train together for the first Olympic Trials in June 2011.
Heading into the World Championships in Perth, Australia last December, Team GO SAIL’s American competitors Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving-Farrar were favored. Worlds was the final step in the Olympic Trials—the first half was held in Weymouth the previous June—and, as is well known throughout the East End now, Team GO SAIL finished far enough ahead of their American competition to stamp their ticket to London 2012.
For Clark, the 16-hour-a-day training sessions are just a part of the process needed to achieve her Olympic dreams. “My family, they all worked extremely hard. I made that connection—you work hard and you get something from it,” the Shelter Islander told The New York Post. Clark grew up clamming and scalloping with her dad most mornings.
A member of the Shelter Island Yacht Club, Clark has been sailing since she was five years old. She honed her skill on the Optimist Dinghy before aging out of the class and pursuing her passion in Olympic Class sailboats. In 1994, at 15 years old, Clark became the youngest member of the U.S. national team. Fueled by a lifelong dream to compete in the Olympics, Clark began her quest to compete on the biggest international stage in 2000 in the Europe Dinghy, a solo sailing event. Finishing third in the Olympic Trials that year only solidified her determination to be an Olympian, a dream finally realized in 2008.
In 2002, Clark switched to the International 470 class, a two-person boat, and she partnered with friend and athlete Sarah Mergenthaler Chin. The two dominated the rankings in the US 470 class from 2005-2008, and they slowly climbed up the world ranking charts as well, clocking in at 47th in 2005 and 5th in 2007. The two handily qualified for the Olympics at the 2007 trials and finished a respectable 12th in Beijing.
Fresh off the experience, Clark set her sights on medaling. In a difficult turn of events, Chin stepped away from the team. But Clark found a partner in Sarah Lihan of Fort Lauderdale, who is making her Olympic debut.
The duo will begin their competition on Friday in Weymouth, about 138 miles away from the London city center. Until then, the team has been taking in the Olympic atmosphere. They’ve seen the queen at the dining hall of the Olympic village—not, sadly, actually skydiving from an airplane with James Bond—and they were the first athletes to sign the Wall of Athletes, a photo of Team USA taken during the opening ceremonies.
Though there are currently no plans for NBC to broadcast the race live on television, East Enders can get their sailing fix by watching all of the races live on www.NBCOlympics.com. In order to gain access, you must have a cable subscription that includes CNBC and MSNBC.
Below is the Women’s 470-event schedule. All times are EST:
Race 1: Aug. 3, 7 a.m.
Race 2: Aug. 3, 8:15 a.m.
Race 3: Aug. 4, 9:05 a.m.
Race 4: Aug. 4, 10:20 a.m.
Race 5: Aug. 5, 10:30 a.m.
Race 7: Aug. 7, 7:05 a.m.
Race 8: Aug. 7. 8:20 a.m.
Race 9: Aug. 8, 7 a.m.
Race 10: Aug 8, 8:15 a.m.
Medal Race: Aug. 10, 8 a.m.
Or, go social for additional updates. Check out Team GO SAIL and the US Sailing Team’s Facebook and Twitter pages. All US Sailing Team videos can be found at youtube.com/USSailingTeam.