In winning the men's double with the fastest time of the event on Saturday, Fred Duhling Sr. and Rick Stehlik are a year short of the 30th anniversary of their bronze medal in the US light men's double at the World Championships in Amsterdam; but Stehlik brought along some new parts for the row that seemed to serve the crew well.
New boat? Oars? Self-locking oarlocks? Nope – how about a new hip – make that two. Two years ago, Stehlik underwent surgery for a double hip replacement. Where most hip replacement patients are told "you'll be able to golf again," Stehlik came out of the operating room and "was walking within days." It was almost a done deal that he would row again.
"I spent a year figuring out how to walk again, then a year figuring out how to row again," Stehlik said after the racing. "Right about now, I'm figuring out how to race again."
And the time in rehab didn't add too much weight to the crew; Stehlick puts himself "at a good heavyweight racing weight for me – 174," and Duhling is under his target weight from his competitive elite racing days. It's a fair guess that they could make weight in two months under the more lax fall head racing rules.
And how much slower are they now, 30 years on?
The irrepressible Duhling did the math: "I think we went around 6:30 in '77, and today we went 3:28, so it's around 30 seconds – a second per year, not too bad!"