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Thursday, May 17, 2012
London isn't in the cards, but Rio may be

By Meghan O'Leary

Meghan O'Leary
Meghan O'Leary now knows she won't be on the final squad to London, but training alongside those that will has stoked her motivation for Rio in 2016.

Meghan O'Leary is blogging for espnW throughout her training with the U.S. national rowing team.

Many Olympic dreams will come true this year, but not mine.

I'm not allowed to talk publicly about the selection process until the team is officially named on June 22, but I know that I won't be on that final squad to London. My new target date is 2016, and Rio de Janeiro might just be the destination.

Though I would have loved to make the team, I'm not devastated by any means. I never expected to come this far as quickly as I did, and while I still have a long way to go, it only shows me that the Rio Olympics are a real possibility.

In April I raced the women's single in the Olympic trials against a formidable field of some of the top scullers in the country -- including top U.S. women's single sculler Gevvie Stone. After an exhausting three days of racing, I went on to win the B Final (sort of like a consolation round) in a come-from-behind victory, placing fifth overall at the trials. (Watch my race here).

I still shake my head in disbelief when I think about how a year ago, I finished 33rd among a similar field at the 2011 National Selection Regatta I. A year can change everything!

While 2012 isn't in the cards for me, I'm still training with the U.S. team in Princeton, N.J. It is a privilege and honor to consider myself a part of such an elite group of athletes. I've learned invaluable lessons from the brilliant, seemingly invincible women I'm surrounded by every day. From perfecting the "art" of ice baths (so cold it hurts!), to creating the ultimate 6-kilometer erg test playlist, to learning how to deal with rowing-related injuries, and pushing beyond my known limits because everyone else is willing to go there with me, I no longer feel like the rookie that I was just less than a year ago.

Meghan O'Leary
The national team training center in Princeton, N.J.

The progress I've made only baits me to continue working hard and see my Olympic dream to a reality in Rio. So we continue -- those of us that won't be hopping the pond to London in July -- to train day in and day out, putting in the countless hours as we hope to represent the United States in future World Cup events, world championships and in four more years, the Olympics.

I read recently that the odds of winning an Olympic medal are about 662,000 to 1. I don't know how this was calculated, but apparently you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to win an Olympic medal! Nine months ago, I decided to leave a full-time job with a promising future to pursue my dream of becoming an Olympian. I left my home, my friends, and my comfy desk job to chase what many would consider a lofty, perhaps even ridiculous goal.

When making this huge life-changing decision, the idea of failure didn't even cross my mind. I knew what I wanted, and I knew I would do everything to put myself in the position to achieve that. And so here I am, with no regrets. Aside from the athletic gains (I seriously think I could run a respectable time in a marathon tomorrow if I had to), I have learned so much about myself, formed lifelong relationships, and am collecting a pretty amazing album of memories that I'll carry for a lifetime.

I cannot wait for what's to come in the next four years. And adding to the "to do" list: Portuguese lessons.

Check out Meghan's previous blog, on training in Chula Vista, here.