As an athlete, it is unthinkable to me how somebody could intentionally attack an event like the Boston Marathon that has been promoting international competition in sport for 117 years. Such an event seems to me to be above nationalities and is one of the purest expressions of our human drive to compete we have today. Having lived in Boston and the New England area for the past five years, the thought of an attack there strikes close to home, as I am sure it does for many in the Craftsbury community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who died, and hope for a swift return to health to those who were injured.
While the rest of the GRP is finishing up training camp in Clemson SC to prepare for the first NSR, a group of us (myself, Phil Henson and Kyle Lafferty) have been training in Oklahoma City at the USRowing training center for the lightweights. While we look forward to returning to the GRP, the value of the competition here and the focus that vying for the four seats in the Olympic-class boat brings are invaluable. With the tragedy that happened in Boston yesterday on our minds, the head coach of the program Brian Volpenhein changed the morning practice plan by adding a team run to the Oklahoma City National Memorial in town. A group of around 20 of us ran from the boathouse through the city in the early morning to the quiet and stirring memorial to the bombings that happened on April 19, 1995.
When we got to the memorial, Volp brought everyone together and gave some history on the memorial, including its motto: “One City, One Nation, One Resolve.” We were all given some time to walk through the monument with its tribute to the 168 that died in the attack and to reflect on what has happened and what we are doing. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of training, trying to make a technical change or reaching that next level of fitness to try and earn the right to compete in the Olympics. In times like this however it’s important to remember that by competing at the Olympics or in any international competition we are striving to represent the United States as much or more than ourselves. Walking around the memorial with this group of athletes all working for the chance to represent their country, I was struck by the inspiring stories of Americans in times of conflict. Knowing the history of how Oklahoma City and the country came together after the bombings almost 18 years ago and seeing how Boston and the country are coming together now give me hope in the power of our nation. Hearing stories of how runners who had just finished the marathon yesterday kept on going to get to a hospital to donate blood or the doctors from MGH who competed in the race and were ready to answer the call to help make me proud to be an Olympic hopeful working to earn the right to represent our country on the world stage.