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02/13 2009

London 2012

OLY-2008-ROWING-FINAL-CAN-USI miss rowing.  I miss the cold mornings, pushing off the dock in time to beat Mike Spracklen’s launch to the water ski beach (what the Canadian team calls ‘point one’).  I miss the games all the boats played in the warm-up runs: push the bow-ball a foot or two in front or let it fall a foot or two behind, but never more than that. I even miss the square-blade work we’d do every row.  I only just sorted it out in the pair with Scott last fall but I’d still be challenged to keep fully squared in the single.

Most of all, I miss the anxiety I felt at the start of each work run that quickly shifted to sheer grit and determination within a few strokes.  The satisfaction at the end of each work run would fire me up for the next run.  Each time I finished a piece I knew that I was two kilometres closer to my goal of that Olympic Gold Medal.

It had always been my goal to win an Olympic Gold Medal.  I remember the day on Elk Lake, over a decade ago, that I decided that I wanted to do it.  In my mind it was going to happen in Sydney, but we didn’t even make the final.  Then I thought it would happen in Athens, but we were disqualified from the final after a collision in the semis.

Beijing was a different story. Experiencing the racing in Beijing with Scott, I realized that the reason I row is not for the Olympic Gold Medal. It is for the experience itself, of racing and training and camaraderie.  There is nothing in my rowing career that I am more proud of than the Silver Medal Scott and I won – and there is nothing we could have done more that day to win the Gold Medal – and if I never took another rowing stroke in my life I would feel extremely proud of my rowing career.  However, apart from that, there is that goal that I set for myself so many years ago that I just can’t shake. I have the physical ability to continue rowing another four-year cycle. I have the metal ability to stand up to the high demands of the training centre. And so, the question had to be asked: Why wouldn’t I try to win my Olympic Gold Medal in London?

Thinking ahead I know that I will have over ten 6000 -meter ergs, probably six 2000-meter ergs, countless pair trials and weekly races around the lake in single.  I am looking at a huge pay cut; I am looking at being so exhausted by the end of Monday that Tuesday scares me.  The half-day of rest Wednesday afternoon feels like Spring Break.  By Thursday my mind thinks my body is crazy – or is it my body thinking my mind is crazy?  Whatever it is, I get through – I push hard – I make something of myself.  By the time Friday roles around I feel like I am on a freight train heading towards Saturday morning time-trails and of course, the random number of hard strokes that follow.  All this is worth it because racing at the highest level of a sport is one of the most fulfilling feelings I have ever had – winning at that level is the icing on the cake.  Of course, you don’t do one without wanting the other!

So consider this my first official statement that I will be vying for a spot on the 2012 Canadian Olympic Rowing Team, and I will be using the time from now until then to be as prepared for my final shot at an Olympic Gold Medal as I possibly can be.

Look for me out on Elk Lake starting in March.

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