My first Olympics in 2008 didn't go exactly like I imagined or dreamed. Perhaps I was naive to how it would all go and or perhaps I underestimated how hard it would be. After we qualified the quad in 2007 I was introduced to sport organization politics and athlete injuries. I really couldn't know what I would learn until I crossed the finish line.
I planned on seeing through one Olympics and retiring. Upon crossing the finish line I had a wave of new found perspective. I suddenly had a flood of ideas and motivation to do it again and do it better. Despite this, I still moved back to Vancouver, BC from London, Ontario. My move home did not stick and I was headed back to the training center for the February of 2009.
Going from the quad in Beijing, which is a sculling boat (two oars per rower), to the eight, a sweeping boat (one oar per rower) was a shift back to my roots and something I welcomed. After the London games I told the Tri-City Now,
"I would have to say that it really couldn't have changed more. We have a different coach, I am sweeping instead of sculling, and I am in the women's eight versus the women's quad. We have a solid group of experienced women and our training is so focused and purposeful. We have left no stone unturned." (see full article)
Teammates going on to their second and third games tried to tell us newbies, but it was hard to hear their lessons. It is such an unexplainable experience that you really need to experience for yourself. This is why I think you see many Olympians having success in their second and third games. Not only can it take more than one quadrennial to perfect your skills, there are also many tools gained and a sense of knowing what it takes once you have been there. So many tools and lessons that I bring to my life today even outside of the sport world.