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Tufts Grads Eye Olympics

Tufts Grads Eye OlympicsTwoTufts graduates – part of the first all female crew in historyto win the Yngling Open World Championship – are contendersto reach Athens in 2004. Warnemunde,Germany

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.14.03] Even though TeamChallenge US – a three-woman Yngling sailing team –made history with a slew of impressive victories, the greatestchallenge for the sailors is still ahead. The crew, which includesboth 1981 and 2001 Tufts graduates, is hoping to be chosen torepresent the United States in the first ever Olympic women’skeelboat sailing event next year. Already holding this year’sworld championship title, the Tufts team is gearing up to competefor the single spot to represent the U.S. next year in Athens.

“InJuly the team created a sensation in Europe by winning the 2003Yngling World Competition in Warnemunde, Germany, which included88 Yngling sailboats with both men’s and women’s crews,”reported the Palm Beach Post.

Even beforetaking the championship, the sailors in Team Challenge US wereaccomplished. Lee Icyda, the tactician and a sail trimmer, isa 2001 Tufts graduate with a degree in International Relationsand Economics, and a national champion in sailing. Betsy Alison,the helmsman, is a 1981 Tufts history and political science major-- and is 5-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, past Yngling Women'sWorld Champion, and ranked first in the US.

“Alison,a native of Newport, R.I. and the team’s skipper, is oneof the sport’s top sailors,” reported The BostonGlobe. “She and Icyda are graduates of Tufts University,where both were named All-Americans.”

The team, which alsoincludes jib trimmer Suzy Leech, garnered top praise for takingthe World Championship title last month – the first all-femalecrew ever to accomplish the feat.

“Itwas a huge, huge win for them,” Jonathan Harley –Olympic director of U.S. Sailing, the governing body for Americansailing – told the Post.

It was one of manystrong performances the team has put in this year.

“TeamChallenge US and other three-woman keelboat teams have been racingin regattas around the world in preparation for the Olympics,”reported the Post. “Icyda’s team also wona regatta held off Palm Beach in January, finishing first in tworaces and third in another.”

While the team hasracked up an impressive record, only one regatta will determinewhich crew will represent the United States in the 2004 Olympics.The qualifying tournament – the Yngling Olympic Team Trials– is set for February 19-22 in Miami.

“Thesewomen need a lot of support and encouragement,” Icyda’smother, Barbara Icyda, told the Post.

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