FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marni Lane, US SAILING, 617.671.8332 , MarniLane@USSAILING.org
US SAILING Names 2008 Athletes of the Year
SportsWoman of the Year – Anna Tunnicliffe
SportsMan of the Year – Zach Railey
Team of the Year – Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker
Paralympian of the Year – John Ruf
Portsmouth, R.I. (December 17, 2008) – US SAILING has chosen five 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games medalists and US Sailing Teams AlphaGraphics members as the sport’s 2008 Athlete of the Year for outstanding performance and achievement this year. US SAILING’s Olympic Sailing Committee has named Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) and Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) as SportsWoman and SportsMan of the Year, respectively. Paralympic Gold Medalists Nick Scandone (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) have been chosen as the Team of the Year, and Paralympic Bronze Medalist John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) is the Paralympian of the Year.
The OSC has nominated these sailing winners to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) for consideration for the Athletes of the Year Awards across all Olympic and Paralympic sports. In January, the USOC will announce their winners.
US SAILING’s 2008 SportsWoman of the Year
Anna Tunnicliffe won a coveted gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Qingdao, China, entering the history books as the first American female sailor in 20 years to win gold at the Olympic Games. While the Laser Radial fleet was competitive and the finish came down to the last nail-biting race, world #1-ranked Tunnicliffe proved her talent and athleticism on the Olympic stage with grace and sportsmanship. She sailed a consistent and smart series in a variety of wind conditions ranging from calm to typhoon-influenced days. US Sailing Team Coach Luther Carpenter (La Porte, Texas), said, “Anna is your dream athlete. She’s a hard worker, in amazing shape, very open to coaching, completely driven and she sees a path clearly to winning.” A true all-round athlete, her fitness has been a key to her dominant performances in the Laser Radial class. Tunnicliffe has also been named a nominee for US SAILING's 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award.
US SAILING’s 2008 SportsMan of the Year
Zach Railey surprised the sailing world by winning a silver medal in the Finn class at the 2008 Olympic Games in Qingdao, China. Railey’s silver medal was remarkable and unexpected: Going into the regatta, he wasn’t favored to win a medal, but Railey sailed one of the best regattas of his career and proved his talent and athleticism. He battled Qingdao's inconsistent and moody conditions, stormy seas and tough international competition by sailing a conservative and smart regatta. In addition, his rigorous training, physical prowess and smart tactical moves helped him stay ahead of his competitors. Railey said he felt "complete euphoria" to win silver at his first Olympic Games. “It feels amazing,” he said. “All of that hard work was worth that moment and I just wish it had lasted a little longer!” Railey has also been named a nominee for US SAILING's 2008 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award.
US SAILING's 2008 Team of the Year
Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker won a gold medal at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao, China. Thanks to a substantial lead in the SKUD-18 fleet, they clinched the gold medal a day early and with two races left to go. While they had only been sailing together for a year, Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker proved to be an unstoppable force in a competitive doublehanded fleet. Their win was also the first time the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team has won a gold medal in the history of the Games; McKinnon-Tucker was also the first female gold medalist in the history of the Paralympic Sailing Regatta.
Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker endured an especially challenging Paralympic campaign this year, as they, and their families, overcame many medical obstacles. “Winning the gold makes the struggle we both had to get here that much more worthwhile,” said McKinnon-Tucker. Scandone personally beat the odds of his disease, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, by not only being strong enough to compete at the 2008 Paralympic Games, but by winning the gold medal with two races left to go. “It’s been such a long road to get [to the 2008 Games],” said Scandone. “It’s emotionally overwhelming for me to finally realize my goal.” There were countless days filled with doubt, exhaustion and adversity, but they met each challenge with incredible strength and determination. Their gold medal embodies not only their talent on the water, but their hard work, sportsmanship and positive outlook. Both Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker have also been nominated for US SAILING’s 2008 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, respectively.
US SAILING’s 2008 Paralympian of the Year
John Ruf exceeded expectations by winning an impressive bronze medal in a tight 2.4 mR fleet at the 2008 Paralympic Regatta in Qingdao, China. Surrounded by previous Paralympic medalists and world champions, first-time Paralympian Ruf peaked at the 2008 Games and proved his talent by claiming his place on the podium. (His rivals included France’s Damien Seguin, the defending gold medalist, Germany’s Heiker Kroger who won a gold medal in 2000, and The Netherlands’ Thierry Schmitter who won bronze in 2004.) “He came into this as an underdog,” said the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team’s Head Coach Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), who credited his medal to his strong work ethic and his determination to improve his boat speed. A year ago, Ruf finished tenth overall at the 2008 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship in Rochester, N.Y. “Since then, he has jumped to the forefront and onto the leader board,” said Alison. “It’s a fantastic achievement.”
About US SAILING
The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING) is the national governing body for sailing. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the organization provides leadership for the sport of sailing in the United States. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.