Although victory was already technically in their hands, the USA crew of Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER sailed one more race on Saturday to clarify their gold medal win in the Two-Person Keelboat - SKUD18 event at the Paralympic Sailing Competition
The spectator fleet went wild when Nick SCANDONE
and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER
(USA) crossed the finishing line of race nine in second place to seal their status at 2008 Paralympic gold medallist.
Although the series was shortened by one race, due to light conditions throughout the week, the American crew never looked like being overhauled. They opted not to sail the final race ten of the series, as they did not need to - the gold medal was already theirs.
"We went out last night to celebrate early and I woke up this morning a little foggy in the head. Everyone has been congratulating us and I think everyone is genuinely happy for us,"
MCKINNON-TUCKER commented following the racing.
A sailor since childhood, SCANDONE has had numerous successes and at one stage some years back, looked likely to go to the Olympic Games, but having to make a living stopped him. After time spent competing in the Single-Person 2.4 Metre, he switched to the SKUD18 class as his physical condition, diagnosed in 2002, started to take its toll and invited MCKINNON-TUCKER to join him. Despite his failing strength, he and the gregarious MCKINNON-TUCKER sailed every race to win and notched up five victories over nine races, their worst finish a third place.
SCANDONE started sailing the 2.4 Metre Paralympic class in 2OO4 and ultimately won the World Championship sailed in a fleet of able-bodied and disabled sailors, including seven previous World Champions and three Paralympic medallists. This result and his total domination of the class earned him the prestigious 2005 Rolex US Sailor of the Year award.
MCKINNON-TUCKER is no slouch either. Among her many accolades, she helped the USA qualify in the Sonar at the Athens Paralympics and was the first female ever to represent USA at the Paralympics. In fact, she is the first female to win a Paralympic sailing medal. "I'm very pleased to be the first woman ever to win a gold medal in Paralympic sailing,"
she also pointed out, "Today you will also see the first woman to ever win silver and bronze medals at Paralympics too - and also in this class."
She was right.
The Australian crew of Dan FITZGIBBON
and Rachael COX
moved back up into the silver medal slot today after giving their lead away to the Canadians John MCROBERTS
and Stacie LOUTTIT
on Friday .
In perfect 8-12 knot winds on a lumpy sea, FITZGIBBON steered the boat to a win in race nine and second place in race ten giving him and COX the silver, while the Canadian duo with whom they had battled all week, scored fourth and third places to win bronze. COX said of her silver, "This is such a happy birthday gift for me today."
She turned 33 today!
FITZGIBBON said, "The Canadians were so close to us all series, but we came out better. Both of us performed very well. We showed good consistency and our Australian spirit - no easy giving upl"
The top three looked the likely medal contenders from day one, their experience showing as the week wore on, but perhaps appropriately, after winning the opening race of the series, Hailiang JIA
and Xiujuan YANG
(CHN) came back to win the final race.
Results - click here
ISAF Paralympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/paralympics