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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

[Links to my Olympics photo albums!  Here, here, here, and here!   Enjoy and share!]

Christening our namesake: the new Yale Crew racing shell! (thanks to Meg Sullivan for the photo)

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.

Rowing with the Yale varsity– a good reminder that before we were Olympians, we were just wide-eyed college freshmen, learning how to row on the Housatonic.

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.

Taylor and I enjoying the Closing Ceremonies with Lolo Jones (an incredible athlete, and one of the nicest, most sincere woman I’ve ever met)

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!

Back in Washington! After enjoying my first true summer vacation in years, it’s now time to get back to work.

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. !!!

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Sorry for the much-belated blog post… I’ve done a much better job at updating my facebook albums!  Please check them out (and share!) for a behind-the-scenes look at the Olympic life.

Let The Games Begin: our final week of training before Olympic racing begins
US Rowing at the Olympics: racing for gold! and out and about in London with the Redman posse
A quick photo tour of the Main Village Dining Hall
A Photo Tour of the Olympic Village:
Time to Enjoy the Olympics!: front-row tickets, VIP lounges, rubbing shoulders with celebrities… life is sweet for Olympians!  I’ll be adding photos everyday or so, so keep checking back!

Watching my teammates launch for the Olympic Final

This week has been the complete emotional rollercoaster… watching my teammates race for gold in their Olympic Finals was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. I’m so so so happy for their success, and I’m honored that I had a role to play in helping them achieve their Olympic dreams.  It was a total affirmation for me to see the American women perform so well  (6th in W2x, a close 4th in W2-, bronze in W4x, gold in W8+)– it is a small comfort to know that I didn’t lose my spot in the boat to mere mortals, but OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS.  I am so so so proud of them, and proud to be called their teammate.

The best cheerleaders a girl could ever hope for

Now that racing is over, we’ve moved into the main Olympic Village in London (we were previously located in the satellite Rowing Village, about an hour away).  As is evident by this much-belated blog post, life is a complete whirlwind. So much to do, so much to see, so many people to meet, and SO LITTLE TIME TO DO IT ALL!  I’ve sadly neglected my email inbox, I haven’t even unpacked my suitcase, I barely have time to sleep or shower… there is just *that many* amazing opportunities!  Paradise on earth!  (Don’t even get me started on the dining options)

Look who we ran into on the bus ride back from the gymnastics arena! Pictured: The Fab 5 (!), Anthony and Robin (LM4-), and Ty (reserve pair)

For example: several nights ago, I was faced with a tough decision. Do I go to the Team USA hospitality house (delicious buffet, open bar, fun scene) where the US Swim Team (Lochte and Co.)  was having a reception? Or do I get a free ticket (front row balcony) to gymnastics finals?  Or last night: do I go to an exclusive party thrown by Coca Cola for their corporate execs? Or do I stay in, and watch track and field finals with other athletes in the US Athlete Lounge?  Does this decision change when I realize that the other athletes are the men’s 4x100m relay team and Serena Williams?  (On the outside: a super-chill rower, just playing it cool and chillin’ with her fellow American athletes. On the inside: “AAAAHHHHH!!!”)

Track and Field: capacity crowd, great seats, amazing competition… my ears are still ringing from the deafening cheers

This experience  has been completely surreal. I am so so so blessed and excited to be here. THANK YOU for all the support and encouragement!

Inspiration for Rio? (a big thank you to Esther for loaning me her medal)

Hurray for Spokane Olympians!!!! (Amanda Furrer, Mead HS, 50m rifle)

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[I just posted a new public album on Facebook: “Headed to London!”  Check it out and share!]

Off to London!

Today’s the day!  Team USA headed to the airport in t-minus one hour! My bags are packed, my passport is up-to-date, I have my in-flight entertainment (NY Times crossword + People Magazine= bliss!)… I’m ready to go!

The past three weeks have been an absolute whirlwind… team fundraisers, media events, athlete meet-and-greets, and of course, good hard training. I don’t want to give away any team secrets, but suffice it to say: Team USA is FAST!

Not only is Susan an amazing rower, she’s also baking rockstar! Her W8+ cake was over six feet long, and came equipped with eight Barbie rowers (and one Skipper coxie), each with a custom hairstyle and a hand-stitched unisuit.

Amanda and I were selected as the reserve pair, which means that should any medical disaster or unforeseen catastrophe befall one of our teammates (knock on wood!), we will step in and race. We must be ready to hop in any seat, in any boat, at any time; so for the last three weeks, we’ve found ourselves in singles, pairs, doubles, fours, eights… the goal is to be fit, fast, and adaptable!

Amanda and I preparing for another training session

It’s easy to get distracted by all the pre-Games hype: everywhere we look, there’s another magazine cover or celebrity tweet or news article about the Olympics. But from now until race day, Team USA will be focused on only one thing: preparing to RACE. Until then, we won’t be distracted by the hubbub over the Ralph Lauren apparel (made in China!), or the London nightclub scene (parties everywhere!), or the perks of being a US athlete (gear package!). USRowing has some business to take care of at Eton Dorney…

Eton Dorney, here we come.

Go Team USA!

P.S.  On a different note, my teammate Megan Kalmoe put together an insightful video blog and essay about “What it Means to be an Olympic Hopeful“. Check it out!

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**UPDATE!!** Shortly after I added this blog post, I received an invitation to travel to the London Games as a spare. I’m thrilled… even if I can’t race, I’m excited and honored to support my teammates/best friends in their Olympic preparations.  The Dream lives on! Go Team USA!

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2nd at Trials… (photo by Alison Frederick)

Last Thursday, I had the chance to finally punch my ticket to London: all I had to do was finish first in the pair at the USRowing Olympic Trials. We had won the “race for lanes” by several seconds on Tuesday, so we knew we had the fitness and strength to pull out another win.  We were strong, we were ready, we were in the best shape our lives. During our warmup, we knew it was going to be a tough race, but we were confident in our ability to push through the pain.

All we had to do was win… and we lost.

What do you do when your best isn’t good enough? I keep on replaying our race in my mind, trying to find that one moment that made the difference, or that single stroke that might’ve boosted our momentum. I think back on all my work in the last few months… maybe I should’ve rested more, or done more sprint work, or lost more weight, or met with the sports psychologist. Maybe I’m in a two week funk. Maybe I never actually recovered from the car accident. Or maybe I just choked. Woulda, shoulda, coulda…  on the one day that mattered, that was the day I faltered, and now another crew is going to London. Kudos to Sarah and Sara— they absolutely raced like champions at Trials. If they bring that relentless mentality to London, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

The official US Olympic roster should be published this evening, there isn’t a single crew in the world who can match the American squad for strength, athleticism, and heart. It’s been an honor to train alongside these women, and I’m proud to call them my teammates. Look out World, here come the Americans.

Thank you to everyone who has cheered for me over the last few years: this is a community effort, and I absolutely could not have made it this far without all your encouragement and support! I’m so so so sorry I couldn’t pull it through for you in the end…

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On a [slightly] happier note, even though my Olympic dream might be over, a different life-long dream was realized last week: namely, to appear in the New York Times. Check out the NYTimes’ coverage of our world record-setting race in Lucerne (I’m not mentioned by name, but I’ll take what I can get…)

The New York Times also published a cool article about rowing in the 6th Floor Blog, in conjunction with the *awesome* photography published in the NYT Magazine.

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An April sunrise on Lake Carnegie. Less than six weeks until the Olympic boat is named!

We have less than three months until the Olympics, and only six short weeks until the boat is named.  It seems that wherever I look, I see reminders that the Opening Ceremonies are just around the corner. This week, I opened up the New York Times travel section to see a full feature on London, the TV networks are starting to run the inspirational patriotic ads, I’m spotting the Olympic rings logo plastered on various credit cards and grocery items, Boathouse Sports (our gear sponsor) arrived in town to take our measurements for the Olympic gear package. I even met the cast of “The Today Show” when they came to the Princeton boathouse for a learn-to-row session with the Princeton varsity– Al, Matt, Ann… the whole gang!  With all the increased publicity and excitement, it’s often a humbling reality-check to realize that there are still 24 very qualified athletes competing for 15 coveted spots.

You’re Fired! Some of my teammates met Donald Trump at the “100 Days Till London!” celebration in Times Square

Healthwise, I’m feeling night-and-day better than I did in San Diego. A capable physical therapist + diligent stretching = a better-than-new rower! The training is intense, the volume is high, but I know I’m finally reaching my pre-accident level, whew.  Thank you for all of the positive messages; I’m so grateful to have such a stellar cheering section!

It’s going to be a crazy few weeks for Team USA. I’m typing this blog post at Newark International Airport, where we’re waiting to board our flight to Europe. Some of our teammates raced this weekend at World Cup #1 in Belgrade (see results here!), so we will join them in Breisach, Germany, for two weeks of training and selection.  We’ll then head down to Lucerne, Switz., for World Cup #2 (May 25-27).  Row2k wrote an excellent overview of the Olympic qualifying process for the US crews, you can check it out here.

I’ll try to stay updated with news and photos, but in the meantime, check out some of the media coverage of my talented teammates!

– Natalie Dell’s profile in USA Today
– Mary Whipple’s radio spot on NPR
– Megan Kalmoe named as World Rowing’s “Athlete of the Month”
– Giuseppe Lanzone named “#1 Most Mouth-Watering Male Olympian”  by Ryan Seacrest. com

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