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18 August 2008, 12:18 pm
TUNNICLIFFE Holds Upper Hand Going Into Laser Radial Medal Race
Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA
Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA leads going into the Laser Radial Medal Race

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

American Anna TUNNICLIFFE showed why she's the world #1 ranked skipper in the Laser Radial as she pulled out a seven-point overall lead going into Tuesday's Medal Race.
After the final three races of the Laser Radial Opening Series on Monday, Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) regains the overall lead recovering strong from a 15th place finish at the start of the day. TUNNICLIFFE shrugged off that race 7 result and topped up with a pair of second places in races 8 and 9 to finish as one of only three sailors in the running for the gold medal. With 21 points separating her from fourth place, she has already guaranteed herself a spot on the podium. "It's a huge relief," TUNNICLIFFE said of having a medal secured already. "I'm kind of relaxed but at the same time kind of nervous. I need to stay focused today and celebrate tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to sit down with my coach and talk strategy."

Like TUNNICLIFFE, Sunday's overall leader Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU) struggled in the first race today but came back strongly with sixth and fourth places finishes to end her series. "I feel confident being among the top sailors. I feel strong. I don't feel pressured at all but today I didn't feel so good, because I made too many mistakes," VOLUNGEVICIUTE said.

World #2 Lijia XU of China came out strongly, scoring a bullet in race 7. She finished the day with an 11th and a sixth to be third overall going in to the Medal Race. Only XU and VOLUNGEVICIUTE can challenge TUNNICLIFFE for gold, but with places counting for double points in the Medal Race nothing can be taken for granted.

"I'm very lucky to be able to jump up to third place today," XU said. "I am prepared to fight for a medal."

World #3 Sarah BLANCK (AUS) moved up to fourth place overall after her first win of the series in race 8. She finished eighth and fifth in the other two races but is 21 points adrift of TUNNLICIFFE and out of contention for the gold medal, although both silver and bronze are still a possibility.

Monday's stronger winds meant disaster for Jo ALEH (NZL), who slid from third overall to seventh. ALEH is now out of medal contention after scoring a pair of 14s and a 20. The bigger breezes did not suit the light New Zealand sailor but she remains inside the top ten and will at least sail in the Medal Race.

Racing started on time in 7-15 knot shifty breezes with a big westerly swell running.

Overall Results - click here

ISAF (source: Olympic News Service)
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