Olympic Blog: Right where I want to be

A life without sacrifice

WAC member and U.S. men’s eight Olympic rower Hans Struzyna leaves Princeton, New Jersey, for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games on July 29. His blog posts will continue to appear on WAC Wire. Here, he discusses the sacrifices he hasn’t made to achieve his Olympic dream.

Hans Struzyna profile picture
Source: U.S.Rowing

The dream of Olympic glory isn’t something that can be put into words. Neither is it something that occurs for two weeks once every four years. It is a lifestyle lived day in and day out by the athletes who make it—and by the ones who don’t.

Among teammates, no one person’s path is the same, even though we are literally in the same boat. Job opportunities are turned down and party invitations are declined. Family and friends who expect to see you at least once a year suddenly note your absence. All the while, you are driven by one ultimate decision: Will this help me get faster?

This may sound like a life of sacrifice, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. Sure, there are times when it feels that way, but not a day goes by that I feel like I’m missing out or giving something up to pursue this dream. Life is full of fleeting moments, and being young enough and fit enough to become one of the best rowers in the country will surely last only a short while. Then again, after this summer’s Games, being an Olympian will always be part of me.

Every guy in the boat shares this sentiment. When a workout gets particularly hard or grueling, you will often hear someone stammer between gulps of air: “No place I’d rather be.” Even when you don’t hear it, you know each guy is thinking it.

When the generations of Olympians who came before us think back to their glory days, they don’t recall the stories of the job they didn’t take or the wedding they missed. The only regret they have is that they can’t go back to the Games. They talk about a practice that went perfectly or a flawless performance when no one was watching. The best of the best talk about performing at their peak during the final race and standing with their hand on their heart as the national anthem played overhead.

Right now, I’m working to get the most from every practice and every workout because I know that just like the occasional thunderstorms that force us off the lake, it will all soon be over.

As we near the opening ceremonies on August 5, enjoy the hype and spectacle. Whether you make the trip to Rio or cheer from seven thousand miles away, don’t forget that the athletes involved have given everything to be exactly where they want to be.

Read:

WAC Wire: A typical day for Hans Struzyna

WAC Magazine: Two for Rio

—Posted July 20, 2016. Photo by Hans Struzyna. Sunrise over Lake Carnegie, where the men’s eight crew team is making final preparations for the Olympic Games. 

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