Updated: May 31, 2012 2:19 PM | By

USA: Anna Tunnicliffe

Born: 17/10/1982

Anna Tunnicliffe celebrates sailing success at Beijing 2008. (© Press Association)

Anna Tunnicliffe celebrates sailing success at Beijing 2008.

Born: 17/10/1982

Place of birth: Doncaster, England

Event: Sailing

Previous Olympics: 1

Previous medals: 1

It is fair to say that not too many sailors come from the landlocked town of Doncaster, let alone go on to become Olympic champions in the sport.

But Anna Tunnicliffe has already been on quite a journey from her English roots, which is why she is representing the USA and not her home nation at London 2012.

While she spent her early years in northern England, the talented sailor moved across the Atlantic to Perrysburg, Ohio aged just 12. There she attended the local high school, joined North Cape Yacht Club and eventually progressed through to the Laser Radial class.

Tunnicliffe would go on to win Olympic gold in the one-person dinghy within a decade of starting out in the sport, but she first spent a gruelling four-year period at Old Dominion University learning her trade.

The 29-year-old brought back several national titles during her time at the Virginia school and quickly learned from her mistakes on the unforgiving college sailing circuit.

It was also during that period that she linked up with coach Mitch Brindley, whose guidance has extended well past Tunnicliffe's university years.

Under his tutelage, she finished fourth at the 2003 US Olympic Trials, returning four years later to secure qualification to represent the United States at the Beijing 2008 Games.

Tunnicliffe did not disappoint in China, bringing home the US women's first Olympic gold sailing medal in 20 years after a regatta that came down to the last two legs of the final race.

"This is phenomenal," she said at the time. "It's absolutely unbelievable. I've been wanting this for many years. It is a dream come true."

She decided to turn her hand to match racing after that triumph, and once again she wasted little time in making her mark by winning the 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and clinching the same prize again last year.

Tunnicliffe is only the third American to win the award - following Paige Railey and Ed Baird - and although the home fans may be disappointed not to see her wearing their colours at London 2012, few would begrudge her yet more success.