The Rio Olympics are here!
For four years elite level athletes pour 100% of their life into one single goal, to represent their country at the Games and win Gold while competing. In the sport of sailing in the USA nearly a dozen teams in each fleet commit their time, their effort, their money and lives to achieving this single goal. As one of those athletes who put everything on the line over the past year, I can attest that the athletes representing USA on the Olympic Sailing Team at the Rio Olympics are the best of the best!
Even though I did not reach my goal of sailing in the Games this year, these past four years have been an incredible experience all around. Training with and competing against the top athletes in our country and from around the world as a teenager is both daunting and humbling but the biggest thing I learned is that each and every athlete truly wants to be at their best when it counts, but at the same time wants the best person (or team in our case) to win, and then kick serious butt when it counts. When I started this campaign for the Rio Olympics, I thought the process would be difficult but I didn’t even know what difficult meant. The amount of time dedicated to training on the water, in the gym, meeting with coaches, advisers, physical therapists, sports psychologists, competitors and supporters goes far beyond an 80 hour work week. The sleepless nights dealing with boat repairs, planning travel and figuring out how to come up with the finances to cover your expenses only adds to the stress you put on yourself to perform at your best in every training camp, at every regatta and each time you sit down with corporate executives to explain why supporting your training is worth the investment.
When it comes down to it, you get to know your competitors like they are family. You help each other when you are having problems, spend countless hours in the boatpark working on each others boats together, coach each other and even travel, train and eat together for 300 days a year. Day in and day out, you are together learning, pushing one another and helping one another through the tough times on the road. With the NACRA 17 being a new class for the Rio Olympics, there was a lot to learn about the equipment, handling the platform, testing the limits and figuring out how to make it from start to finish of every race while riding the edge of chaos all the time. My competitors became some of my best friends, people I know I can count on no matter what for the rest of my life.
Having had the opportunity to sail for a year as training partners with Olympic Crew, Louisa Chafee and then working with Bora Gulari when he started sailing the NACRA 17, I am elated that as a team Bora and Louisa are representing USA at the Rio Olympics in the Mixed Multihull discipline. Their teamwork, boathandling skills and ability to push the limits of the boat at all times is remarkable and their performance in stressful racing situations puts them as top contenders for Gold! I know that along with the rest of the teams that were competing for the spot they won in the Olympic Trials are here at home rooting for them as we watch the regatta online and on the NBC Sports coverage of sailing we will all enjoy over the next couple of weeks.
As it turns out, my campaign for the Rio Olympics was just a beginning for me. The lessons I have learned and the friendships I have made through this quad have made me a better person, and a stronger athlete overall. I am excited for the entire US Olympic Sailing Team and know exactly how hard they have worked to earn their position as top athletes in our sport. I wish all of them good luck and I know that our performance in Rio will produce results beyond what is expected. I know that each of them can feel our support as they walk into the arena for the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow. You are the best at what you do, and we look up to you for everything you have accomplished as Olympians and as the friends you have become to so many of us. I can’t wait to see your medals when you return home and to get back to training for the next chapter in our sailing stories.