No. 1 Sports Story of 2012: Olympic hero returns home without medal

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12/31/2012 12:00 PM |

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.

Olympic sailor Amanda Clark returned to her Shelter Island home without a medal this past August, but that didn’t mean she didn’t receive a hero’s welcome.

A neon sign that usually warns motorists to slow down on New York Avenue in Shelter Island read: “Welcome home, Amanda. We’re so proud of you.”

Clark and her husband, Greg Nissen, were greeted with congratulations, smiles and a police escort home once they reached the small island.

For two weeks during the Olympic Games in England, Clark had been the talk of the town. Clark and her crew, Sarah Lihan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., finished ninth overall and 10th in the medal race in the women’s 470 sailing competition.

After the Shelter Island town supervisor, Jim Dougherty, congratulated Clark on her achievements, she said jokingly, “I thank you for making the 10th-place finish in the medal round sound good, but it was still last.”

Clark’s Team Go Sail prepared well for the rough waters off the coast of Weymouth, but ran into difficulty on days when the sea was calm.

“We were in it,” Clark said, “and we were racing for the Olympic champion position, and that’s incredible.”

Lihan, speaking to a U.S. Sailing Team interviewer, said: “We fought as a team, we won as a team and it hurt, you know, watching our teammates not succeed. That’s something I’ve really not come to terms with yet.”

Clark announced her retirement from competitive sailing, saying, “It’s time for a change.”

bliepa@timesreview.com