Anna Tunnicliffe has reached the masthead of international sailing.
The Perrysburg High School graduate is a face of her sport, an Olympic and World Cup gold medalist and two-time world sailor of the year. At the Olympic media summit in Dallas this week, she cycled through a whirlwind of interviews and photo shoots -- attention rarely lavished upon those in her profession.
"It was really cool," Tunnicliffe said in a phone interview from Dallas. "It felt like people were genuinely interested in our sport. You don't generally get that when you're competing against track and swimming."
What's left for the 29-year-old to accomplish?
"Oh, there's so much more out there," Tunnicliffe said.
For one, she hopes to capture another piece of Olympic gold.
Tunnicliffe, who spent her first 12 years in England, before her family moved to Northwest Ohio, is preparing for the same result in a new event as the quadrennial athletics festival visits her old haunts this summer in London.
After earning gold at the 2008 Games racing a small dinghy in the Laser Radial, Tunnicliffe switched to women's match racing -- and proved a quick study. She and crew members Molly Vandemoer of Stanford, Calif., and Debbie Capozzi of Bayport, N.Y., claimed the first-to-six-wins final over rival Sally Barkow's Team 7 at the Olympic qualifying regatta in England last week.
Tunnicliffe described herself as "super excited," the skipper of a crew with two of her closest friends. Team Mclaren, as her crew is called, have two major events remaining before the Olympics begin in late July. Their focus, however, is on England's blustery waters. The crew will spend much of the next two months training at Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbor, the two sites outside London set to host the Olympic sailing events.
All the while, Tunnicliffe, the top-ranked women's skipper in the world, will continue to serve as an ambassador for her sport. She wants to move the needle, and knows the media will play up the storyline of a champion returning home. Before Tunnicliffe moved to Perrysburg and joined the North Cape Yacht Club in La Salle, Mich., she grew up in Doncaster sailing the English waters on her parents' 40-foot yacht. She even occasionally keeps in touch via Facebook with a handful of her childhood friends.
Just don't doubt on which side of the pond her allegiance lies.
"I've spent 18 years in America and only 12 years in England," said Tunnicliffe, who now lives in Plantation, Fla. "I'm not really going home per se going to England. I'm an American, and I'm competing for America. For me, [England] is another country."
This summer, Tunnicliffe is there for business.
Contact David Briggs at email@example.com, or 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.