A natural born Aquarian
The winner of four Olympic medals, including a gold at Sydney 2000, Alessandra Sensini has done much to shape the history of windsurfing.
Written in the stars
“I was born on 26 January 1970 under the sign of Aquarius, and that mapped out my destiny for me. The stars showed me which path I should take,” Alessandra Sensini once said. Born in Grosseto, southern Tuscany, on the shores of the Mediterranean, she was passionate about sport from an early age, excelling in tennis, basketball, volleyball, swimming and running. Harbouring dreams of becoming a champion, her only problem was to decide which sport she should pursue a career in, a dilemma that was resolved when, at the age of 13, her sisters persuaded to climb onto a windsurf board for the first time. Feeling an instant connection, she channelled her competitive spirit into the sport and went on to fulfil her childhood dream.
Four Olympic podiums in a row
An accountancy graduate from Grosseto Technical Institute, Sensini made her first Olympic appearance in the Lechner class at Barcelona 1992, where she was thrilled to be rubbing shoulders with legends such as Carl Lewis and the USA’s basketball “Dream Team”. She was on course for a medal too, but fell out of the reckoning in the final two races to finish seventh. Four years later in Atlanta, by which time Olympic windsurfers were competing in the Mistral class, the Italian was rewarded for her consistency with the bronze. She drew on all her experience at Sydney in 2000 to dominate from start to finish and become Olympic champion. At Athens 2004, she was in with a chance of successfully defending her title going into the medal race, in which points count double. Hampered by light winds, however, she could do no better than seventh and had to settle for another bronze. In Qingdao Bay at Beijing 2008, this time in the RS:X class, she completed her Olympic haul by winning the medal race to clinch silver, thus becoming the most successful ever female athlete in the sailing events at the Games.
Between 1997 in Perth (AUS) and 2010 in Kerteminde (DEN) Sensini won seven world championship medals (four golds and three silvers). Also a five-time European champion, she contested her sixth and final Olympic Games at London 2012 at the age of 42, finishing ninth on the waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.