August 14, 2016
What can I tell you tonight that you haven’t seen on TV or online? This place is surreal and so different, but there’s an element of the Olympics that – for all the size and dorms and beverage coolers and medals and tv coverage and dynasties and flags – feels shockingly like a normal regatta. The docks have this nice felt-y cover, but the mud, rain & wind delays feel familiar. There are showers and bag checks on site, but the restrooms are portable. Rowers warm up seriously, hiding taut nerves. Coaches take deep breaths & hope for good execution. Families are wrapped in flags and can watch a jumbo-tron, but the crowd shows the depth of it’s knowledge by shouting for moves in the first 300m of the race. I’m not sure whether I’m jealous of their wild enthusiasm or wish they knew better. An older man behind me who sounds like he’s read one article shares how accomplished Gevvie Stone is before declaring her “so modest” based on her body language when receiving a medal. (Now, I don’t know Gevvie any more than that dude, but I’m just gonna throw out my theory here that nobody can get that fast in a 1x and become a Dr. without some serious belief in her own capabilities. Humility & gratitude, maybe, but modesty? Ummm…)
We saw one of the greatest battle/ photo finishes that I could ever imagine in the M1x and another US W8+ gold. We also saw people busting themselves over B, C, and D final rankings and rightly celebrating hard-earned wins at each of those levels. We wondered if the WL2x enjoyed their fans swimming out to them or whether they would’ve preferred that moment to be theirs alone. We admired the German fans for their unflagging enthusiasm regardless of their crews’ final level or position in the pack. We pulled our enhanced packing tape splashguard off of a very nice Empacher, derigged, & walked it out into a container. We congratulated medalists and F finalists and everyone in between. We ached for those disappointed in their races or their results.
And then we went to go see monkeys.