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A Rower's Journey back from Tokyo

The women's 8+ rowing team competing at the Tokyo Olympics Photo provided by Brooke Mooney

Since getting back from the Olympics everyone asks the same questions. How was your experience? Was it fun? Did you meet other athletes? What was the best part? Did you go to the opening and closing ceremonies? What kind of gear did you get? What was the food like? And were the beds really cardboard?

At first it was hard to answer these questions and I just wanted to answer in a way that I thought would satisfy whoever was asking. I was still internally processing the experience and didn’t know how I felt about everything. I arrived at the Olympics so excited and with high expectations. I knew the sky was the limit for our boat and could not wait to line up and race with these ladies. It was hard to leave the Olympics feeling the complete opposite. I felt like I was a let down and wasn’t worthy. 

This feeling started to fade as I started to open up and talked to family, friends and teammates about the experience. About a week after getting home from Tokyo the entire Team USA was invited to a zoom call with President Biden. He expressed so much pride towards the entire team, sharing how much he loved watching us and thought everyone represented the USA so well. Hearing these words from the President of the United States of America really meant something because he didn’t have to watch us competing. He has a country to worry about but took the time out of his day watch. A few days later was the closing ceremony. We had to leave Tokyo 2 days after our last competition so we did not get to walk in the closing ceremonies. 

The closing ceremony day might have been the hardest day, behind the afternoon following our race for medals. Seeing all the USA athletes walking around smiling, laughing and crying tears of joy while I was sitting at home was more difficult than I ever imagined. I wanted to be there, I wanted to be on that turf with them. No matter the results at the olympics that was the closure that I felt like I needed but did not get. 

As I started to travel, see friends, attend events, go to restaurants and fulfill the non-athlete side of me, I would always toss on an olympic shirt or jacket. No matter if I was waiting at a gate to get on a plane or at a restaurant waiting to be seated someone always came up to me and asked if I went to the Olympics. No matter the circumstance they seemed overjoyed to meet an olympian and ask a few questions. This was the big turning point for me to get past the results and feel how amazing of an accomplishment going to the olympics was. So few people will ever get to compete at this level. I am happy to have broken through the negative thoughts solely around the results and now feel all the positives about competing at the biggest athletic event in the world!

I am very proud to be a Team USA athlete and will always keep my chin high and represent my country to the best of my ability! GO USA!!!

Brooke Mooney fist bumping her teammate at the Tokyo Olympics Photo provided by Brooke Mooney

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