>Today is the last day of racing here in Fremantle, AUS. Wow… we’ve been here for a long time. This is a long event. In fact, it’s two one-week events back to back. And wrapped up in this long event is a lot of emotion, a lot of joy and some sadness as well. This event has been more than just the world championship in the ten Olympic Class events. It is also our USA Olympic Trials in nine of those ten events.
Yesterday, Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih secured a bronze medal in the Star Class, the third medal at these Worlds for the USA. This has been our team’s best-ever performance at an ISAF Worlds. Mark and Brian sailed an outstanding regatta in a scary-deep Star fleet. Well done guys!
In the 49er yesterday, Erik Storck and Trevor Moore continued their strong performance at these Worlds and now stand in 5th place heading into today’s medal race. The most exciting part (for me, at least) of Erik and Trevor’s performance is the fact that they believe they can be a lot better than they were this week. These guys are doing all the right things and their best days remain firmly in front of them.
We got final clarity on who will be our 2012 Olympians in the Laser and 470 women, and these two selections came right down to the final races of the event. In the Laser, Rob Crane put in an outstanding gold fleet performance on the final day, with a 1-2, and took home the USA berth. And in the women’s 470, no one was sure which team won selection until the final results were posted on shore. It was that close. As it turns out, Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan will represent the USA next year, after winning selection on a tiebreaker.They finished the two-regatta selection series with the same points as Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Farrar, but the tie breaker was the results here at these Worlds, giving the USA spot to Amanda and Sarah.
Here is yesterday’s wrap up report from Dana Paxton.
I’ve been in my position as Chairman for two Olympic cycles now, which means I have overseen two sets of Olympic Trials. I’ve had a front row seat to 21 different Olympic Trials (eleven events for the 2008 Games and ten events for the 2012 Games), three Paralympic Trials (and soon-to-be three more), and each time one of them concludes, I have the exact same emotion. It is our nature to celebrate our winners, and over the next several months, we’ll focus a lot of well-deserved attention on our Olympians and Paralympians (who will be named in January.) But my focus always goes first to those who do not win Games Selection. The people who put in a serious, focused effort, and who come up just short, deserve every bit as much respect and praise as those who win. Putting together a proper effort to represent the United States at the Olympics is a life-altering decision. In almost all cases, the athletes put their lives, professional and personal, on hold. In some cases they postpone careers. In some they take a time out from their education. In some they postpone the decision to start a family. And in all they spend a crazy amount of time away from home and their loved ones.
It would be easy for these athletes to feel like they put it all on the line, came up short, and then wonder if it was all worth it. And I tell every one of them that it was, no matter whether they realize it now or not. I spent six years training for the 2000 Olympic Team. I short-changed a wonderful career opportunity to do it. I spent a lot of time away from my new bride Emily, in the first two years of our marriage. The decision to campaign impacted our family planning decisions, slowed my career growth initially, delayed our ability to buy our first house… and an outsider might hear all that and say “wow, bad decision.”
But there is not a day in my life that I don’t think back to the experiences I gained on the Olympic path. That effort has molded who I am today, and I am grateful every day for the experience. In fact, I have rememberances all over my office and home of my time campaigning for the USA. I’m intensely proud of the whole thing, even though we did not win.
I hope that every athlete who competed and did not win, will some day come to the same realization that I have. That, despite the results, they are the better for their efforts. Each USA athlete down here competing has my eternal respect.
Last day here in Fremantle. We’ll have a big contingent cheering on Erik and Trevor in the medal race.