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Elise Rechichi OAM & Tessa Parkinson OAM

"Two women who had to overcome major obstacles to reach the zenith of their sport - an extraordinary gold medal in the 470 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

Elise Rechichi OAM and Tessa Parkinson OAM set the seas ablaze with their Olympic gold medal winning partnership. Together they rewrote the record books with their outstanding achievements which included their extraordinary gold medal in the 47O class at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – the only Australian women’s team to achieve this feat.

Both born and raised in Western Australia, Elise began sailing at the Royal Perth Yacht Club at the age of seven and Tessa a year later at the Fremantle Sailing Club.

Rechichi went on to win silver at the 2002 Youth Sailing World Championships in the 29er skiff and gold a year later in the 420 class.

But it was their pairing in 2004 that would go on to change sailing history.

The chemistry was almost immediate, with Elise and Tessa taking out the 420 Youth Sailing World Championship and Open World Championship titles - the latter on Rechichi's 18th birthday.

In 2005 they linked with legendary 470 coach, Victor Kovalenko and not long after finished 10th at their first open 470 World Championship.

The pair were named Young Australian Team of the Year at the Australian Sport Awards for their efforts.

At the 2006 Olympic test event in Qingdao, China, Rechichi slipped on a launching ramp, fell and came up with a mouth full of polluted sea water.

Rechichi became so ill that she was forced to withdraw from the event.

The lightly framed, former gymnast lost 10kg and became so seriously ill that her family feared for her life.

Even with the best medical intervention, it took more than six months before she was free of her debilitating illness.

As Rechichi recovered throughout 2007, the team started showing signs that they would be one of the teams to beat in Beijing.

In their first major regatta back, they won Bronze at the European Championships in Greece, before winning the Olympic Test Event in August.

2008 was to be an unforgettable year for the team.

After a pair of bronze medals at the European and World Championships it was on to the Beijing Olympics.

In a display of flawless execution, unwavering teamwork and unrelenting spirit, the pair had only one result outside the top five in the qualifying series which ensured they had secured the Gold before the final double-points race.

They were further rewarded for their performance when they were named winners of the Australian Sailing Female Sailor of the Year Award in 2008.

What sets Elise and Tessa apart is not only their individual prowess but also their exceptional teamwork.

Sailing is a sport that demands harmony and synergy between crew members and this duo exemplified that to perfection.

Additionally, Elise and Tessa’s achievements extend beyond the competitive arena.

They are an inspiration to aspiring sailors, particularly young women, who aspire to conquer the waves and reach the pinnacle of success.