'Great experience,' says Clark after Olympic journey comes to end with 9th-place standing

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island sailor Amanda Clark, background, finished ninth overall in the Women’s 470 competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

After eight days and 11 races through the waters off the south coast of England, Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark and crew Sarah Lihan concluded their 2012 Olympic competition Friday with a last-place finish in the medal race and 9th place out of 20 boats from around the world that competed in the women’s 470 two-person dinghy class.

A two-time Olympian, Clark topped her finish from Beijing in 2008, when she was 12th.

Referring to her previous crew Sarah Chin’s decision to give up competition in early 2011, not long before Olympic qualifiers were to begin, Ms. Clark commented Friday, “What motivated me to keep going in 2011 is that I love sailing. I really enjoy being part of the Olympic experience. I am so happy to be part of this and on this side of it. It’s been a great experience and definitely glad I didn’t stop in 2011.”

New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie won the overall Olympic women’s 470 competition as well as the medal race. They had a net total of 35 points. It was the third race they had won of the 11. They were second in three races.

Great Britain won the silver medal and Netherlands won the bronze.

“Our medal race was unfortunately not as breezy as the men had,” commented Lihan. “We had a lot of pressure coming in and out. When the pressure was in, the left was the favored side of the course, and when it was out, the right was favored. We didn’t line ourselves up with those trends and our scores reflect that.”

“Today when we saw the Brits with their double flares and the Kiwis upside down, and everyone celebrating, Amanda and I were pretty down, to be honest,” said Lihan. “I looked down and saw the Olympic rings on our pinnies and thought, ‘I represented the United States of America at the Olympics.’ I’m really disappointed with how we performed. I really wish we were able to get up on that podium and watch our flag raise — but we’re here and we did it.”

In the medal race on Friday, Clark and Lihan’s last-place finish added 20 points to their score for a net total of 98. The top 10 boats competed in Friday’s medal race — the 11th race of the competition, which began Aug. 3. In a medal race, points are doubled, so a 10th-place finish meant 20 points.  The boat with the lowest point total was the winner of the overall competition.

Clark and Lihan teamed up in 2011 and quickly saw their results improve, collecting medals at world cup events. They qualified for the Olympics on the final day of the 2011 World Championships in Perth in December. In a final World Cup pre-Olympic event that was held off Weymouth in June, they won the medal race and placed second overall, moving up from sixth place, and took home silver medals — but not the Olympic kind.

Clark announced in March in an appearance at the Shelter Island School that this would be her last Olympic competition. She said she hoped to continue to work with the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in some capacity to share her knowledge and experience.

joew@timesreview.com

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