Saturday, April 14, 2012

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Before moving on to what's next, I'd like to reflect a little on what just happened. Coming in to NSR II, Margot and Sarah knew that this was their only shot at the Olympic team this year. And, for Margot, it was also the first (or last) step in her retirement process.

For the last few months, they have trained with Matt in DC and worked tirelessly to build their speed, endurance, strength, race plan, technique -- all the many large and small skills that are essential to competing at this level.

They went to CA with high hopes, confidence in each other and their combined and individual abilities, and the will to win.
The outcome was unexpected, at least until there was time for reflection and analysis.

As a mom, when I hear my daughter pumped up and full of excitement about a race, certain that she is going to win, I don't say "but what if you don't win?" I don't say this for somewhat the same reason I try not to say to myself, "but what if you don't live through the summer?"

Positive thinking goes a long way toward positive outcomes in my experience. I hear the positive in what she says, and that's what I respond to. I affirm her. Bad results may prove her wrong or mistaken, but they will never prove that my negative comments were right.

When she hears my voice in her head, I want her to hear "YOU CAN DO IT."

Watching the races online is excruciating. When she won Pan Ams, I cried from start to finish. First from nerves, then from excitement, then from pure joy for her. Watching the final for NSR II was another experience altogether. You can not make a boat go faster by praying, begging the computer monitor, yelling out loud or internally, pretending you are rowing in your armchair, crying, chewing on your cell phone, etc. You can only watch and try not to let the disappointment you know that your child and her dear boat mate are feeling sear your heart.

I am myopic in the sense that I focus my emotions on my daughter, but I also note how many other young men and women in all the sports go through this process, succeeding and failing, continually striving, and I suppose that their dedication and resilience are main reasons for my admiration for all those who strive at this level, especially in this selection year. And I don't think most of them would continue if they didn't have that capacity for positive thought to carry them through the disappointments and failures they experience along the way.

And I "know" the National Team women and some of the men, as well as many of those who row for Potomac. I have such admiration for all of them, so just want to make sure I am not neglecting to mention them and my concern for their experiences and hopes for their successes.

This would have been the end of it. Third place. Pack up the boat and your belongings, go home, mourn the end of your career and hopefully rejoice at your successes and the amazing people you grew to know and love along the way, and start a different life, a different way of living.

This should have been the end of it, in terms of realistic possibilities. We're pretty sure that this never happened before. That both the first and second place winners declined the opportunity to qualify the boat and if successful, row it in the Olympics. I will not try to guess at what Megan, Ellen, Kate, and Stesha went through while making this decision, nor would I presume to guess at all their reasons.

They are all outstanding rowers. Margot has rowed with all of them, except Ellen I think, and has the highest respect for their abilities.

At this point, I am amazed but also thankful to them because their decisions made it possible for Sarah and Margot to have another go. More about that in another post.

What I wanted to show in this post is the sequence of events using pictures posted on row2k. If you are a rowing enthusiast, you most likely are very familiar with this site. Not only does it post news about just about any rowing event you can think of, but it has wonderful photo galleries that are preserved online.
I have downloaded these photos from their site. All of them are available for sale on the site. In this case, two photographers took pictures, and I think they show an interesting progression from Sarah, no doubt getting mentally focused before the race, to Margot and Sarah, at the end of the race.

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