The Last One

image credit ©row2k

It’s the evening before the W4X A Final at the 2015 World Championships.  I have just a few more hours left of the 2015 season, and as a member of the 2015 USA Women’s Quad.  This week has had its ups and downs – but I’d say that the Quad has gotten our money’s worth with our races at this year’s Worlds.  We came to the Final the hard way this year:   we just missed winning the heat, and then just missed winning the rep.  For the final, we’ll be racing in Lane 1.  Not a favored lane.  Probably not a favored crew to most people at this point.  But I can tell you without a doubt that we are ready to lay it all out there, and have our best race of the regatta tomorrow.  We’ve had our last practice row together this afternoon until our race tomorrow.  It was a smoker, and the focus and commitment from all four bodies was palpable.  We’re ready to go.  It’s time.

I have spent the past two days’ worth of downtime between practices in my hotel room with my roommate/boat mate, Tracy.  Both of us are students of the sport, and so she and I have been following along with all of the preliminary races on worldrowing.com.  Never before have I seen such an absurd level of competitiveness between all the boat classes at a World Championships.  So many of the quarterfinals and semi finals at this regatta have been decided in the closing strokes (or stroke) of these races, and so many great and decorated crews have ended up on the wrong side of the line.  If there is anything to take away from these inspiring and also devastating performances – it is that no one is going to take anything for granted in the next few days.  There is no time to wait; no time for games or strategy; no use in hoping other people will fail.  I have massive respect for the women we are going to line up with tomorrow.  All of them want the same things that we do – and no one is going to roll over on their goals just because we’re rowing along next to them.

Whoever ends up on the podium tomorrow from the Women’s Quad final will have absolutely earned it.  This event is brutal, and the qualification cutoff is cutthroat.  Our field has shown that every single one of the boats in the final will have the capacity to make a run for the medals.  Our splits and times have been close in our heats and reps, and we all have strengths that will push us down the course tomorrow. It’s anyone’s game, and I am ready to play.  For the last time.

I haven’t talked much about this very special element of my 2015 World Championships: this is my last one.  My goal is to be ready to retire from elite rowing competition after the 2016 season, which means that 2015 should be my final appearance at a World Championships.  I have mixed feelings about it.  Worlds are always such a cool part of our season, and they have been a regular part of my life for the past seven years. Not all of my Worlds have been great, or successful.  But without them, I wouldn’t be where I am, or be the athlete I have become.

Tomorrow is my last chance to win a World Championship medal for the United States.  But that isn’t going to define the way that I approach my race.  Tomorrow isn’t about me, or what I have or haven’t done with my time and the opportunities I’ve had.  Tomorrow is about my crew, and this opportunity we have now, together.  It’s about the work that we’ve put in, the adversity we’ve overcome, the goals we’ve set, and the job that we have to do.  We all want to have our best race.  We all want to contend for a medal.  We all want to be the fastest Women’s Quad in the world tomorrow.  We’re all in. And I can’t ask for anything more than that, for my last one.

Long Live the Dream,

–MK

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6 responses to “The Last One

  1. Once again: Congratulations from GERMANY
    What a phantastic race !

    First time that an US Quad has won the word champs title.
    And first time that a women had won silver as a member of the pair last year and Gold as a sculller.

    What weighs more – first US olympic medal in the W4x or World Champion?

    What next 2016?
    Of cause: a real Olympic Champion – independent from the type of boat you are in.

    Enjoy these moments to prepare yourself for RIO !
    C’u in Rio

  2. Pingback: 2015 World Championships Recap | Meghan O'Leary·

  3. Belated — but delighted — congratulations on your USA women’s quad sculls World Championship victory!
    All the sweeter, Megan, given your disappointments, doubts and frustrations of earlier this season.
    When it counted, you “entered the arena and made the attempt” — and then some!
    Sending you mega smiles and major good wishes plus deep thanks for being such an inspiration …

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