Thursday, August 18, 2011

This morning Margot won the W1X (Women's single scull) in the 2011 Pan Am games trials at the US Rowing Training Center in Princeton. In October, she will race in Mexico for the US in this event.

This is a positive outcome after a challenging summer for her. For the first time since 2007, she did not make the US National team. In the Spring, she came in 6th in the first National Selection Regatta (NSR) W1X A final -- a huge disappointment -- and then came in 4th in the Women's double (W2X) at NSR 2 and wasn't invited to participate in Quad camp.

She decided to return to Potomac Boat Club (PBC) in DC to train with her former coach, Matt Madigan, who came out of coaching semi-retirement to work with her. Matt and his wife Katie have three dear little boys, so Matt's decision entailed quite a sacrifice of time away from his family and job responsibilities. So, Thank You Matt!!! Margot's former teammate and W2X partner, Reilly Dampeer, is the head coach at PBC and she has also been a positive and helpful coaching presence since Margot returned.

The move, the coaching, and Margot's own resolve and continued dedication led to her second place finish in the finals for
selection for the World Championship/2011 National team. Congratulations to Gevvie and good luck in Bled!

There are no cigars for second place. Margot was very disappointed, but also pleased to see that her speed has continually improved since the move. Basically, in the Spring, she came in 6th and a couple of weeks ago, she came in a strong 2nd.
Matt and Reilly encouraged her to enter the selection process for the Pan Am games. On Tuesday, she won her initial heat with a comfortable margin to advance directly to the finals today. Today she led from the start and had a powerful finish. (Note that Gevvie did not race -- she is in Munich with the National team as they train to move on to Bled. All of our elite rowers will be focused on beating each other and earning spots on the Olympic team over the upcoming months.)

A few observations from my perspective = IMHO:

  • Margot never discounts her competition. I am always impressed by the level of respect these athletes have for one another. Also, I am impressed that they manage somehow to compete with one another and yet remain each other's biggest fans.
  • There's no doubt that coaching and positive reinforcement can make a huge difference to athletes at every level. The US focuses on the 8s and on sweep rowing. We could use more support for coaching our scullers and our small boats in general. Makes it very challenging for our scullers and our small boats to do well in international competition against countries that do focus on these areas.
  • Related to the above. Interesting Blog post from 2008 I found today (Mary Mazzio - 50 Eggs Films) when I was surfing around looking for news about Igor Grinko (coached Margot in Augusta the year after she left OSU and also coached Women scullers in China). OK, I don't know WHY I was surfing around... computer "chair potato" syndrome.
Here's an excerpt = interesting perspective:
"Watching the US athletes compete, it struck me that many of these athletes are left to their own devices with little or no consistent coaching - and it is such a shame that the US does not have a similar system of support for its athletes (at least not its rowing athletes). With one of the largest gene pools of athletic talent in the US, more consistent support, money, coaching and facilities for up and coming athletes would result in more consistent results.

We in the US put most of our eggs in the men's and women's eights basket. However, only 7 women's eights are lining up in Bejing and only 8 men's eights lined up - - that is not much of a competition. Frankly, and this might be heresy - but removing the eights from the Olympic program because it is so sparsely attended - and instead adding more events for smaller boats (a lightweight single; a women's four, a men's and women's coxed four; more lightweight events) would be more exciting and more competitive. Plus - more countries can afford to send smaller boats to ra

Winning her heat on Tuesday (Photo from
  • There are a few truths that you discover in your life. One of those for me is that you must believe in yourself to be truly successful at anything you attempt. Clearly, your self-awareness and a realistic understanding of your capabilities is critical too. Believing in yourself, sounds like such a trite saying a la "Just be yourself." What it means to me is refusing to accept any limitations other than those you impose on yourself, or those that are imposed on you by genetics (trying to be an Olympic gymnast when you're 7 feet tall) or environment (trying to make a national team when you don't have any money and can't find a job that will allow you to maintain your training schedule).
  • Along the same lines, yes it is also very important (depending on how much feedback your particular personality type craves) to welcome the support and encouragement of others, but what is in your head is the most important aspect of being a success. You have probably known people who seemed, to everyone around them, to their bank, to their church, etc. to be at the pinnacle of success. And yet those same people may have been very unhappy because...
  • If you don't believe in yourself, when you are successful you feel guilty because you don't believe you deserved/earned the success. Today's race is a testament to Margot's belief that she has more speed in her and more races to win.
  • Another bit of inspiration. I met Ken Jurkowski in Beijing where he did a respectable job in his single -- a very competitive event in the Olympics. Ken is unaffiliated. He has essentially coached himself. Certainly he has had support and encouragement, but I would argue that he also has a firm and abiding belief in what he can and will do in his sport. He won the World Championship selection event for the M1X and also won the Pan Am selection in the Men's single today. I hope he won't mind my posting this. Like my daughter, Ken is one of many of our athletes who inspire me. And like my daughter, he, and so many athletes, pick themselves up from disappointments, learn from them, and continue to seek excellence in their chosen sports.
If I keep my intention, I will try to update this as often as I can. To all our US National Team rowers and all those who aspire to our team, good luck and good health in this critical selection year!

PS: Update to the previous post = subsequent results/events (I hope I remember correctly!):
  • 2010 World Championships/Lucerne- 5th place, W2X with Megan Kalmoe; 5th place, W4X with Megan Kalmoe, Stesha Karle, and Kate Bertko.
  • 2010 World Championships/New Zealand in Nov - 5th place, W4X with Natalie Dell, Sarah Trowbridge, and Megan Kalmoe
PSS: I don't mean to totally ignore the accomplishments of all of our rowers. Obviously, I am most closely tuned in to Margot's racing experiences. I hope that anyone reading this blog will consider donating to US Rowing, particularly in this Olympic selection year. These young men and women need our help to compete internationally, often against athletes who are totally funded by their governments and who therefore don't have to have jobs in addition to training 40+ hours a week. Funds help pay our coaches, equipment, travel, etc. GO USA!

1 comment:

Maria Bokulich said...

Great post Julia. Hope you're doing well.