In early October, the seven Yale Olympians returned to New Haven for a Elis-in-London celebration. It was a glorious weekend—going to practice with the current Yale team, answering questions at a panel discussion at the Yale Law School, being honored at the Yale football game, reconnecting with Yale alum young and old at the Head of the Housatonic, dedicating new racing boats at Gilder Boathouse… It was such an honor and a privilege to be welcomed back at Yale, and the entire event was the perfect way to add closure to the whole post-Olympics period. Now it’s time to pick myself up off the couch, dust off my 48-month calendar, and start looking forward to my next steps.
The Olympics were surreal, exciting, and absolutely magical—a never-ending adrenaline rush! It’s as if your birthday, Christmas, college spring break, the Super Bowl, NCAA March Madness, and a family reunion all fell in the same two-week period. You’re surrounded by celebrities, and you receive VIP treatment wherever you go. There’s an open bar, a famous chef in the kitchen, and children asking for your autograph outside the Village gates. You have front-row seats and a backstage pass to the hottest show in town. We didn’t have enough suitcases to take home all the free swag that sponsors were throwing at you. For two surreal, exhilarating weeks, you ARE a superstar.
And then, just as quickly as it began, the Olympics ended… the smoke of the fireworks from the Closing Ceremonies had barely cleared away, and already volunteers were already starting to close up the facilities, take down the signs, and ship the athletes on their pre-dawn shuttles back to Heathrow International Airport.
The team receives so much mental preparation in the lead-up to the Olympics—how to cope with the pressure, the ever-present media, the distractions of the Village, the intensity of competition. But no one can prepare you for the emotional roller-coaster as you transition back into ordinary life.
I’m taking a short break from the Princeton Training Center in order to pursue my education—a doctorate in physical therapy at Eastern Washington University. But training at home leads to a myriad of challenges: after the excitement of London, how do I motivate myself for that lonely gym session? How do I keep myself accountable for that 6am workout if my pair partner is 3000 miles away? How do I balance the pressures of training, work, school, and family when I don’t have a coach and a team manager to establish a daily schedule for us? It’s definitely a struggle, and I’m still figuring it out!
For this fall, I’m focusing on health—I still need to resolve the lingering injuries from the January car accident, and try to maintain fitness while not flunking out of school (first Clinical Anatomy exam this morning! Eek!). But come winter, it’s time to start rebuilding up my calluses! If I’ve learned anything in the last two months, it’s this: you gotta use it, or lose it; I’ve rowed almost everyday for seven years, and it still only took eight weeks of cross-training to leave my hands as smooth as a baby’s bottom. !!!