Your Dear Novice Rower Olympic Viewing Guide

I can’t begin to describe how excited rowers get about the Olympics. It’s like the rest of the world stirred from a four-year sleep, rubbed its eyes, and came to the startling realization that our sport is beautiful, cool (thanks in part to The Boys in the Boat), and even a little risky and daredevil-y (read: Zika and dirty water). 

During the Olympics, the World-At-Large suddenly “gets it.” And they celebrate with us.

Here are the athletes I’ll be celebrating as I watch the goings-on in Rio. Not all of these rowers will win gold (some aren’t even considered contenders for it). But for one reason or another, they have captured my imagination. They show me what rowing can be. Maybe you’ll see in them what I do.

Single Sculls (1x)

(N.B.: Rowing is a team sport….except in the 1x. It takes a different kind of rower to row alone. I tried it for a year once and started to go a little postal. So those who train in it all the time get my support and props.)

DNR will be watching:

~ Gevvie Stone (USA): She trains with her dad, who missed his Olympic chance because of the Moscow boycott. She's trained while earning her MD. I can barely train and do anything else. Props to Gevvie, and here's hoping you get on that podium.

~ Ekaterina Karsten (BEL): She's one of best rowers of all time, and OMG THIS IS HER 7TH OLYMPIC GAMES! Nuff said.

~ Mahe Drysdale (NZ): Returning gold medalist from London. My love for this guy’s sculling knows no bounds. Watch him against the competition. They’ll be rowing at a faster rating, but he’ll cut through them at a lower rating like they’re butter. He’s huge and powerful, yet graceful. I love how those qualities that don’t seem to go together all come together in his rowing.

 

Double Sculls (2x)

DNR will be watching:

~ The Sinkovic Brothers (CRO): The standard by which every sculler in the world is judged. These guys row like well timed clocks and never seem to do anything that’s not eye-popping or world record-breaking. Watching them is a joy and a wonder. Check them out below. (I marvel at how they always seem to row on only glassy water. How do they do that?!)

 

Pair without Coxswain (2-)

DNR will be watching:

~ Eric Murray/Hamish Bond (NZ): These guys are simply unbeatable. As you’ve seen from the video on these pages, they are strong, textbook rowers--even on ergs. They are the Sinkovic Brothers of the 2-.

 

Quadruple Sculls (4x)

DNR will be watching:

~ Megan Kalmoe and her crew of Tracy Eisser, Adrienne Martelli, and Grace Latz (USA): As mentioned on these pages, I dig Megan. She’s got moxie and sass, and seeing that in a rowing shell blazing down the race course can’t be anything but exciting and awe-inspiring.

 

Eight with Coxswain (8+)

DNR will be watching:

~ USA Men: I love an underdog, and these guys barely qualified for Rio. But they did it, and by all accounts they’ve been working overtime. The patriot in me says they’ll come on strong when it counts.

~ USA Women: The world has just realized that the US women could earn their record 11th straight world title at this Olympic regatta, so they are all over the news. So cool! Just like all of the best, they have a target on their backs and the world will be gunning for them. It will be a scream-at-the-TV kind of race. I'm sure I'll cry when it's over.

 

 Which rowers will you watch in Rio? Find an athlete to cheer (or cheer for everyone!). Get inspired, and bring that spark to your own rowing.