Graduate student helps claim victory in Olympics

Rider grad student Caroline Lind (far right) awaits the beginning of the final heat during the Olympics on Aug. 17 at the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park. Team USA brought home the gold with a time of 6:05.34.By Kristie Kahl

In the 2008 Summer Olympics, the United States earned 110 medals in Beijing, including 36 gold. A new Rider student helped win one of them.
Rider MBA student Caroline Lind helped the U.S. bring home the gold for the women’s eight-person rowing team on Aug. 17.

“[I felt] satisfaction, relief, happiness, joy and all of those emotions; I just felt really proud,” said Lind. “All those emotions just ran through me from the time of finish to the time the anthem played. It was just an amazing feeling to have worked so hard for years together with these other amazing girls. To achieve something and finally bring back the gold for the rowing women — it was a huge deal.”

The U.S. led the six-team race from start to finish, building a .73-second advantage in the first 500 meters of the competition. The team increased its lead to 1.78 seconds midway through the race. Maintaining their lead in the last 1,000 meters, the women claimed the gold with a time of 6:05.34, finishing 1.88 seconds before the Netherlands.

“For the final, I pretty much had to lie to myself,” said Lind. “I was like, ‘This is just another race, you’ve done this a million times and it doesn’t mean anything.’ So I really just had to mentally talk it down a little bit and that helped me have a really patient first 1,000 like I’ve been training for all year, and I achieved that patience in small boat races at World Cups. So I know I could do it, I just had to translate it to the high energy and high intensity atmosphere.”

The U.S. rowing team has had no luck in bringing home an Olympic gold victory since 1984, but claimed the silver medal four years ago in Athens. This year, the crew exceeded the past, averaging 36 strokes per minute in the 2,000 meter distance to help claim its victory.

“It was an awesome race with the team taking command early on,” said Lori Dauphiny, Lind’s former rowing coach at Princeton University, where Lind graduated in 2006. “They had great style, poise and composure. Caroline fulfilled her goals and that brought me much pride, enthusiasm, emotion and just so much excitement.”

Lind, originally from Greensboro, N.C., is a four-time senior national team member and a first-time Olympian. She has not placed worse than third at an international competition since 2005.

“She’s a great athlete, and I noticed this from the moment she stepped onto Princeton’s campus,” Dauphiny said. “I was always very impressed with her work ethic.”

During her junior year at Princeton, Lind’s crew finished second in the varsity eight at the 2005 NCAA Championships. The following year, they stepped up to win the gold in the varsity eight at the 2006 Championships.

Looking back, Dauphiny saw Lind’s success as a result of her excellent teamwork.

“Caroline has always been a team player,” Dauphiny said. “To row in the eights you have to be a team player because you always deal with different personalities. Caroline was a positive force in her four years here at Princeton and she was a positive force on the national team.”

At the 2007 U.S. National Championships, Lind placed third in the women’s pair while winning first place in both the women’s four-person and the women’s eight-person. She continued to be a force to be reckoned with when she claimed first place at the 2008 National Selection in the women’s pair.

“With the national team, I learned how to restructure my training, build my aerobic face and really become more fit and a better overall athlete; and that translated to more speed on the water,” Lind said.

In 2007, at the FISA World Championships, Lind brought home the gold in the women’s eight, but she was only able to place third this year in the FISA World Cup women’s pair.
In the weeks preceding the Olympics, Lind “felt prepared physically” with the national team as the women practiced one to two hours, two to three times a day, six to seven days a week.
As the team prepared to compete, Lind had nothing but confidence in her team.

“We had won the past two World Championships so we knew we had a strong team, a lot of potential, and a lot of power; we just had to remain focused and not let all the new aspects of the Olympics deter us from our goal,” said Lind.

With a new gold medal under Lind’s belt, Dauphiny sees the Olympics as a great learning experience for Lind.

“I think Caroline has learned how to perform under a great amount of pressure,” Dauphiny said. “She had high expectations and she was able to achieve her accomplishments under tremendous pressure.”

The coach has nothing but pride in her former athlete.

“Caroline is an exceptional athlete and she is very special,” Dauphiny said. “There are definitely not many like her.”

In two years, Lind plans on graduating Rider with a MBA with a concentration that she is still unsure of. In the meantine, Lind is enjoying her new expereince of studying businees.
I have a great time with my classes,” said Lind. “It’s nice to learn information that I have never been exposed to in a formal academic setting before.”

Lind says she will carry on her knowledge from the Olympics to continue both her athletic and business career.

“I definitely learned a lot about managing stressful situations,” Lind said. “The whole thing was a bundle of stress, and by just being able to deal with that and realize that some of the feelings I was having leading up to the first heat were anxiety, I think that made me more mature as an athlete and more mature as a person.”

Lind looked back on the experience and cherished the success of all the hard work she has endured throughout the years bringing home the gold.

“Just taking each step in life and really appreciating it is another thing I learned,” Lind said. “I was told by so many former rowers to just take each step of the Olympics and cherish it because it’s stressful and it goes fast but it’s an amazing time. So I’m going to try to carry that over into the rest of my life, do everything 100 percent and enjoy it.”
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