Years of hard work and sacrifice paying off in the spotlight of the medals podium at the Olympics alone can be quite inspirational. But other moments can be just as inspiring — if not more so — as capturing gold, silver or bronze.
Providing such an uplifting moment of perseverance in the face of adversity earlier on at the 30th Olympiad have been Weston native Nick LaCava and his U.S. Rowing teammates (Will Newell of Weston, Mass., Robin Prendes of Miami, Fla., and Anthony Fahden of Lafayette, Calif.). They have been competing in the men’s lightweight four events on Dorney Lake less than 20 miles southwest of London. His team, dubbed the “Ivy League 4,” has demonstrated that the journey can indeed be something to write home about with joy.
As gold medal great Carl Lewis once said: “It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.” Overcoming setbacks, the pressures of performing on the world stage as well as against elite competition from among the world’s fastest, strongest and mentally toughest athletes surely ranks up very near the thrill of ultimate victory.
In their very first heat as the Summer Games kicked into high gear on the first day of competition last Saturday, what happened to Mr. LaCava and his mates on Dorney Lake? They finished dead last. But rather than wallow in disappointment, they instead focused on improving their technique and pace, returned the next morning, and what do you know? The “Ivy League 4″ experienced a dramatic turnaround, stroking to glory with a first place finish. Another decent showing on Tuesday extended their Olympic dream by placing them in a final race the morning this paper comes out.
This display of grit and determination was not in the worldwide media spotlight as much as some other memorable Olympic moments of inspiration, but it was just as admirable, awesome and exhilarating.
“We knew it was going to be a close race,” said Mr. LaCava said after the first place finish. “Everyone here is really good, so we were just focusing on a good race and making it through,” he said, echoing the quiet determination in sentiments of other great Olympians.
Not only did the “Ivy League 4″ teammates’ feat give their hometowns and the nation a great moment of inspiration, their heroics contributed to an inspired U.S. Rowing website headline that’s going to be unforgettable: “No Lightweight Day for This Four.”
Indeed, no lightweights.