08/13/12 8:00am

AP Photo/Francois Mori | Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark competed in her second Olympics this past week, doing her hometown proud with a ninth place finish in the Women’s 470 sailing competition.

Why do we love the Olympics so much?

I found myself involved in several conversations on this topic the past couple weeks.

Is it our love of country? Our obsession with sports? Maybe it’s just a great inexpensive way to fill our nights in the dead of summer, when most of our usual programming is on hiatus.

No matter what the reason, Americans were watching the Olympics more than ever before this year, even if many viewers complained that the tape delay in a new social media world ruined much of the surprise.

I watched the Olympics just about every day this year for all those reasons and one more: the personal connection.

When I first broke into this business as a sportswriter nearly a decade ago, a young sprinter in the Southern California town where I worked was all the rage.

Just a senior in high school, some folks were saying she could be the best in the world one day. This weekend, she proved she is.

I turned on my television just in time Saturday night to see a now 26-year-old Allyson Felix win her third gold medal of the 2012 games after failing to capture that precious medal in her previous two Olympic bids.

I got goosebumps as I heard commentator Lewis Johnson announce to the world that Allyson ran her leg of the mile relay in 48.1 seconds.

It wasn’t the only time my skin tingled this Olympics.

Jamel Herring was still in middle school when I graduated high school in 1997, but it still gave me great pleasure to watch a fellow Longwood High grad slug it out in his first Olympic boxing match July 31. Even in a 19-9 defeat to Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in his only match, the Coram native did his hometown proud.

The same can also be said for Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark. She proved once again that you don’t need to wear a medal around your neck for your friends and neighbors to celebrate your Olympic achievements. After finishing 12th in Beijing four years ago, Clark improved her standing in what will be her final Olympics, when she finished ninth in the Women’s 470 sailing competition.

There’s no doubt she’ll receive the hero’s welcome she deserves when she returns to the Island. Of all the young sailors to take an opti out on local waters, she’s the one who went as far as the sport allows, sailing the world and representing her country.

She proved to us once again that anything is possible, so long as you set your sights on getting it done.

Maybe that’s what makes the Olympics so special: The feeling that one of us can do all that.

Here’s to hoping we can carry on with the Olympic spirit long after these London games have passed.

Every one of us is longing to accomplish something. Now seems like as good a time as any to say goodbye to the tape delay.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup, publishers of the Shelter Island Reporter.

08/07/12 11:40am

COURTESY PHOTO | Amanda Clark, background, and her crew Sarah Lihan are in seventh place heading into the final two preliminary races Wednesday.

They’re moving on up.

Shelter Island Olympian Amanda Clark and her Team Go Sail partner, Sarah Lihan, posted a pair of top 10 finishes in the Women’s 470 Tuesday to move up to seventh place overall with 73 points in the event. The top 10 sailing teams following the final two preliminary races tomorrow will qualify for the medal race Friday.

After all 10 races are finished, the worst score is thrown out, giving each team a final net points total. Because Team Go Sail finished in last place in Race 6, they will definitely see 20 points dropped from their final score. Currently, that would place them in a tie with fifth place Brazil (67 total points) and sixth place Germany (72 total points), with 53 net points apiece.

On Tuesday, Team Go Sail placed third in Race 8 and ninth in Race 9. That moved them up from eight place overall.

Races are slated Wednesday at 7 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. and can be viewed at www.nbcolympics.com. Results will be posted on the Reporter website at www.sireporter.com as soon as they are available.

Women’s 470 Standings

Rk Points
TOT Net
1 NZL   31   21
2 GBR 31 25
3 NED 46 28
4 FRA 64 47
5 BRA 67 53
6 GER 72 53
7 USA 73 53
8 ITA 75 57
9 AUS 84 63
10 JPN 89 70
11 ESP 89 73
12 ISR 98 77
13 POL 98 78
14 ARG 100 81
15 CRO 103 83
16 DEN 99 83
17 CHN 104 85
18 SWE 111 92
19 SLO 113 96
20 AUT 135 115
08/06/12 10:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island’s own Amanda Clark, background, is now through six of 10 races in the 2012 Olympics.

Despite a disappointing day in the Women’s 470 Olympic competition Sunday, Shelter Islander Amanda Clark and her crew, Sarah Lihan, want fans to know they’re still in the game and optimistic about making the medal race on Friday.

The sailing duo, which goes by the name Team Go Sail, dropped from fourth place overall to eighth place based on their 19th and 20th place finishes in races five and six Sunday. After a day off today, they will resume their quest to reach the medal race with two more races Tuesday.

“[Team Go Sail] had a rough day yesterday but we are taking the lay day to get our heads straight to fight through til the end,” they wrote on their Facebook page Monday. “Four more races and a medal race, we are very much still in this. Game on.”

In an interview with Dana Paxton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Sailing Team, the pair said there was “dying breeze” on the North Course that created very difficult conditions and forced the sailing committee to change the length of the course.

“It wasn’t conditions that suit their powerful sailing,” Ms. Paxton said.

Ms. Lihan elaborated further.

“The first race was in decent pressure, but it was dying the whole way through,” Ms. Lihan told Ms. Paxton. “We had a game plan to go left. There was a big cloud on the right side that we thought was going to kill the breeze. We got a persistent righty with more pressure than we had on the left side. We executed our game plan, but unfortunately it was incorrect. That put us back. It was difficult to gain places back the rest of the race because as the breeze died, there weren’t any lanes to pass. It wasn’t a speed issue, there just weren’t any lanes and not tactical gain to get around. And they shortened the course.”

Ms. Clark told Ms. Paxton that the day off Monday should help the sailors regroup.

“We are lucky to have some time to decompress,” Ms. Clark said. “We are going to have more of these days with four-lap races and on the Harbour Course, we have to change gears and get back on track. I believe we are capable of doing it and I don’t see today as foreshadowing of how the rest of the event will go.”

The 10-race series concludes with races 9 and 10 on Wednesday.

The team must be in the top 10 of the event standings after Race 10 Wednesday to qualify for the medal race on Friday.

Team Go Sail is nine points ahead of 11th place Japan, currently the top team out of the medal race. The Americans are now 20 points behind third place the Netherlands for the bronze position.

In Olympic sailing, points are awarded based on how you finish. Finish first, you’re awarded one point. Come in second, you score two points, etc. Each team’s worse race is thrown out before the medal round. The team with the lowest point total at the end of the medal race, when points double, is the winner.

Races can be viewed live at www.nbcolympics.com and results will be posted as soon as they’re available at www.sireporter.com.

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08/05/12 10:45am

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island’s own Amanda Clark, background, is now through five of 10 races in the 2012 Olympics.

Shelter Island’s own Olympian, Amanda Clark, was dealt a huge setback in her bid for an Olympic medal Sunday when her team finished 19th and 20th, respectively, in the fifth and sixth races of the Women’s 470 competition

The U.S. team, which also includes crew Sara Lihan, was in fourth place after two days of competition, but they dropped to eighth following Sunday’s two races. The team must be in the top 10 of the event standings after Race 10 Wednesday to qualify for the medal race on Friday.

Clark and Lihan are nine points ahead of 11th place Japan, currently the top team out of the medal race. The Americans are now 20 points behind third place the Netherlands for the bronze position.

In Olympic sailing, points are awarded based on how you finish. Finish first, you’re awarded one point. Come in second, you score two points, etc. Each team’s worse race is thrown out before the medal round. The team with the lowest point total at the end of the medal race, when points double, is the winner.

So far, Clark and Lihan’s worst race was the second one Sunday, when they finished dead last.

After a day off Monday, the team will race twice Tuesday before the final two qualifying races Wednesday.

Races can be viewed live at www.nbcolympics.com.

08/03/12 10:10am

FACEBOOK PHOTO | Amanda Clark (right) and Sarah Lihan in Olympic waters Friday.

Shelter Islander Amanda Clark and her racing partner Sarah Lihan are in a fourth-place tie following their first two Olympic Women’s 470 sailing races this morning off the coast of Weymouth, England.

The U.S. sailors are tied with the Netherlands, one point behind Israel and New Zealand, who are tied for second place. Host nation Great Britain leads the way.

Team Go Sail was 3 minutes, 20 seconds behind first-place the Netherlands, which was followed by New Zealand and Israel in the first race.

Team Go Sail then placed third in the second race.

They were 1 minute, 6 seconds behind the first-place team from Great Britain. A German team was in second place.

The women are slated to sail twice a day today, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the top 10 teams will compete in the medal race next Friday morning.

You can watch the races at www.nbcolympics.com

Visit the Shelter Island website at sireporter.com for results throughout the week.

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