It’s been an exciting week down here in Princeton!
This past week, members of the Iraq National Rowing Team have been training on Lake Carnegie. The eight members of their delegation (six rowers, two coaches) are here in the U.S. on a six-week training trip as they prepare for the 2010 Pan-Asian Games in China this November. They are only here in Princeton for a week, before they journey on to rowing venues in Boston and Cincinnati.
The press attention has been exciting; reporters and photo-journalists have been showing up all week to ride in the launches. It’s actually a pretty cool human interest story– two different nations bridging a culture gap through the purity of athletic competition– the press guys ate it up when our LM4- and their LM4- did a steady-state workout together. If anything, it just goes to show that underneath the politics/religions/diets/dress codes/etc, the basic sporting principles are the same: you show up, you put in the work, and you give it your all on race day.
That being said, the Iraqis’ visit definitely made us appreciate how privileged we are to train in Princeton. Check out this NY Times story about their preparations for the 2008 Olympics: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/sports/olympics/12rowers.html?n=Olympics/2008/Rowing?ref=rowing
(US rowers may complain about the rainy weather, or the early morning alarms, but at least we don’t have to worry about being shot at…)
The Iraqi team was polite and considerate, both in the boathouse and on the water. The language barrier limited our conversations to basic greetings and “look out for the buoy!” calls, but we enjoyed taking photographs and exchanging pins at the National Team Meet-and-Greet this afternoon. However, I do pity their decision to come this week: the uncharacteristically-foul weather left much to be desired (the poor guys must think America is the dreariest, rainiest country in the world!)
Speaking of the gross weather, there was a neat/quirkly side-effect of the non-stop rain: The mild flooding upstream let loose a floating “island” of algae, fifty yards across and two inches deep. By the time the rain finally stopped (yesterday afternoon, thank goodness!), all the tiny plants had piled up between the stone bridge and the Princeton dock, giving the impression of a gigantic lime-green floating carpet. Super gross, in the super-cool sort of way.
For further reading:
- Iraqi Rowers Training with US Team for Asian Games, USA Today, 9/28/2010
- U.S. National Team Welcome Iraq Rowers to United States, USRowing press release, 9/14/2010
- Bringing Iraqi Rowing to Boston, World Rowing press release, 9/29/2010
- For Iraqi Rowers, Getting to Beijing Was Victory in Itself, New York Times, 8/11/2008
- Rowing Amid Gunshots and Bomb Blasts, BBC, 8/6/2010
- Rowers’ Diplomacy, Wall Street Journal, 5/5/2010