Local Olympian’s Husband Preps for London

Greg Nissen reflects on the journey that took sailing athlete Amanda Clark to the 2012 Olympic games.

Greg Nissen, husband to Shelter Island native and sailing , hasn’t left for London yet. He has to run on Shelter Island until Aug. 5, when sleepaway camp for kids ends.

Then he’ll get on a plane and watch his wife and new crewmate go for the gold during the — her second attempt in the women’s 470 sailing class.

“I’ll catch the last two-thirds of the sailing events in Weymouth and be there for the end, when hopefully … well, I won’t even say it,” he said.

Amanda Clark and her teammate, Sarah Lihan, will take a bus from Weymouth to the south of London — the port where the sailing events take place this year — north to London to participate in opening ceremonies Friday night. Nissen said he’s got a set up for the kids at Quinipet to project the ceremonies on to a big screen. But he’ll be with friends at the watching the seminal event on TV like everyone else.

“We’ll just turn on the TV and get exited,” he said. “Everyone’s asking me — ‘Why am I still here?’ I’m very excited to go to London, but this whole experience is very expensive, and I kind of need to get in and out."

Sailing events begin Aug. 3, with athletes getting one or two races in per day depending on the weather — sailing events have “lay days” built in case there is too much wind to prevent a race, Nissen said. The sport is scored a lot like golf.

“The low score wins, and at the end, the top 10 boats go to the medal race, where the points are doubled,” he said.

Nissen, a 33-year-old native of Woodstock, and Clark have been married since March of 2005. The two met in 1996, when Nissen came to Shelter Island to teach sailing at Quinipet and sailed with They became friends through their college years.

“We were MySpace friends, if anyone remembers that,” Nissen said. “We got reacquainted in 2003, when I moved to Shelter Island full-time, and she had gotten darn close to qualify for the Olympics back then but didn’t make it. I always say I got her when she was down. She was going back to college and finishing up, and I just started a full-time job here, coming out of a job I hated. We were both getting back to reality, and we were already friends and it just went further. That’s the best way for things to happen.”

And the extreme interest in boating on both parts didn’t hurt. Nissen describes himself as having more of a technical interest in boating that meshes well with Amanda’s competitive streak.

“I’m a big boat person, she’s a little boat person,” he said. “She just won’t accept slow. She can take any old sailboat and make it go fast. We actually had to get a motor boat so we can just get out on the water and relax, not worry about what the sail looks like and all that.”

With the moment his wife has worked much of her life working up to about to happen, Nissen said that the journey to the Olympics has been a little bittersweet this last go of it, with Amanda away from home much of the time.

“It has been kind of a bummer for me — we really do have a good time together,” he said. “But it is exciting, and I’ll be there when they pass out the shiny things.”

Where will you be watching the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics? Let us know in the comments below.


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