“A lot of people didn’t think she was the favorite to win the trials,” said Brindley, who served as her personal coach for those Olympics. “But we knew when she got to the Games she had what it took to contend.”
So much so, she won the gold. Three weeks later, she followed through on a promise she had made to herself: win the Olympic gold and have the Olympic rings tattooed on her ankle. They are there now, as she approaches her second Games under much different circumstances. She could have continued to race by herself, but there was an appeal in a new challenge, match racing.
“It took a lot of compromise,” Tunnicliffe said. “I had to learn how to deal with teammates. It wasn’t always about myself.”
The reason it has worked to this point, according to all involved, is that Tunnicliffe, Capozzi and Vandemoer get along famously on shore as well as off it, an essential dynamic given the time spent together. And there is this: Tunnicliffe, it turns out, is an excellent skipper.
“She’s just really, really good at knowing what the boat needs, making the boat go fast,” Capozzi said. “When you have somebody who can steer a boat really fast, then it allows Molly and I to be able to make the decisions that we need to do and position our boat where we want to position it. If we’re slow, it’s not going to happen.”
Because she is fast, and because she will be in England, she will again attract attention. In 2008, members of the British media pressed her for what more than one story called the “renouncing” of her citizenship. Her response then was the same as it is now.
“I’m sure there’ll be the same shenanigans pulled this time,” she said. “But it doesn’t really matter what’s said. I’m competing for America, and I want to win for America.”