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18 Aug 2008

Women's 470 Pair RECHICHI and PARKINSON Win Australia's Second Gold

Image: © DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Young guns Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON completed an Australian double in the 470 fleets by securing the gold medal in the Women's Two Person Dinghy event at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON, just 22 and 21 years old respectively, are crowned Olympic Cha

mpions, winning Australia’s second gold medal of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. "The feeling hasn't sunk in yet. We're still so stunned and we cannot stop laughing," RECHICHI said shortly after returning to the marina.  

Their victory also cements the legendary status of Australian Head Coach Victor Kovalenko, aka the ‘Medal Maker’, who has now coached teams to medals in both men's and women's 470 events at the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games. Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT, World Champions in 2005, 2006 and 2007, win ther silver medal with Fernanda OLIVEIRA and Isabel SWAN of Brazil sailing to regatta of their life culminating with a victory in the Medal Race to secure bronze.

Like the Australias, DE KONING and BERKHOUT are competing at their first Olympic Games after narrowly missing out in the Dutch selection trials for Athens. "I dreamed about this last night," revealed skipper DE KONING. "It's a big step for us. We had to learn to adapt to the conditions here since it's not something we're familiar with."

After yesterday’s stormy conditions, brighter skies and less intense westerly breezes around 9 knots provided near perfect conditions for today’s racing. RECHICHI and PARKINSON took an 18-point lead into the Medal Race with the Dutch crew of DE KONING and BERKHOUT the only team that could take the gold medal away from them. To do that the Dutch had to finish first and the Aussies last and to avoid that situation the Australians immediately set about match racing their rivals, forcing them to sail in dirty air and dragging both teams right to the back of the fleet.

The Australian strategy was working perfectly, but as the Dutch rounded the top mark in last place they appeared to be seriously in danger of losing their silver medal. At the front of the race the Brazilians were pushing hard against the Israel team of Nike KORNECKI and Vered BUSKILA and with eight boats between Brazil and the Dutch, OLIVEIRA and SWAN were provisional in the silver medal spot. With the gold medal now looking assured the Aussies loosened their grips on the Dutch and by the time they had approached the second mark DE KONING and BERKHOUT had pulled ahead slightly and started to reel the rest of the fleet back in. Their cause was helped slightly by a penalty on the Spanish boat for an incident at the final upwind mark and by the final leg the Dutch were comfortably mid-fleet.

Brazil went on to win the race ahead of the Israelis, whose second place secured them fourth overall. DE KONING and BERKHOUT crossed in fifth to take silver with the Aussies coming in ninth but assured of gold.

Overall Results - click here

Source: ISAF / Olympic News Service.