Just after the men's eight final at the 2016 Olympic Games, Glenn Ochal turned away from a question about his future as a rower and the possibilities of trying to reach the top of the Olympic podium one last time.
It was a tough question for any athlete who had just missed medaling in an Olympics, and one who was already among the veterans of the 2016 squad. Ochal has been a part of the US men's national team through two Olympic cycles.
He had already won a bronze medal in the men's four in London, 2012, and after he stepped back from full time training and racing in 2013. He raced in one World Cup event and later then committed to a second cycle in 2014.
The Rio quadrennial was not an easy one for the US men. The eight took bronze in the 2013 World Rowing Championships, and then struggled for the next three, failing to qualify for a spot in Rio in the 2015 World Championships.
A focused effort the next spring brought a win won in the Lucerne last chance qualifier, and Ochal went to Rio full of renewed hope.
But the emotion he felt in Rio, after the eight finished a disappointing fourth, was inescapable. And the question about making another run, committing another four years, was understandably something he was not expecting. And the words did not come easy.
"I don't know. I just can't answer that right now," he said after the final in Rio two years ago. After answering, Ochal turned to leave the interview area, then he stopped and turned back to the finish the interview.
"It can't end this way. It just can't."
This Friday morning, Ochal recalled the interview and talked a little bit about the process of coming to terms with that Rio final, and how after 11 national teams - begun when he was still a junior - and all the commitment and time and training that went into every one of those years, whether he could find the same commitment again for another cycle, a way to change his ending as an Olympian.
The answer was he had, he could and he will.
Men's eight in Plovdiv
Next Wednesday, Ochal will be in the US men's eight when it goes to the line in the heats for the 2018 World Rowing Championships, and the goal is another Olympics and another shot at the top of the podium.
Despite his new resolve, the emotion of Rio is often still there he said, but after a practice row on the course in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where athletes from 406 countries will begin competition Sunday, Ochal is feeling only the excitement of the renewed challenge.
"I just had to reevaluate everything and see how my body felt and where I was mentally. If racing was still in the cards," he said.
"I did some training on my own and got to a level of fitness that was in range of where I needed to be and called Mike (Teti.) He was pretty open to having me. I joined the group for some training camps at the beginning of the year, and then joined the group full time at the beginning of selection.
"It's great to be back. I'm excited to race. It's one of the best things in the world you can do, racing. Just line up the boats; eight guys from Germany, eight guys from Great Britain, eight guys from Australia, and all those other countries, and go."
Coming back in the middle of an Olympic cycle, especially after an emotional disappointment, is not something Ochal is taking lightly. Plus, he's married now. He has a career, and juggling those things while being an Olympian in rowing for the US takes sacrifice. It does not pay the bills. It doesn't come close.
There are no big endorsement checks, and unlike a country that has government funding and can pay a livable wage, like the lottery funded British, finding a way to not "let it end like this," takes even more personal balance and support than when it did when he won a bronze medal in 2012.
Developments at USRowing have helped. The men's training center was relocated to the West Coast where Ochal and his wife have settled, and head coach Mike Teti is finding ways to make being on the team full time less of a full-time burden.
Guys are encouraged to find jobs and allowed time to train on their own during the portions of the year when selection and racing is not in season. Self-training, Ochal and many of the other veterans who know what it takes to be in peak shape when away from the team, are capable of coming in and not just taking a spot, but contributing.
Teti sees that as a win for both an athlete like Ochal, and for the younger guys that are either on the squad or looking to come in after finishing college.
Ochal talking with coach Mike Teti
His crew this year reflects that. Of the nine men on the crew, three are second time senior team members, one is in his first year. The remaining four are all older veterans, three are Olympians, including two others beside Ochal that were in the Rio eight. "This has been good," Teti said. "It's all been very calm. Everybody is super supportive out there. Guys gave jobs and they have places to live, so we're able to work out the schedule to accommodate that and practice every day."
Having the veterans back "helps a lot," Teti said. "And it's not just that they are veterans just coming back in. They're good. With Mike DiSanto and Glenn, and Tom (Dethlefs) coming back, it's really helped the group a lot. If they weren't here we'd be in trouble. "Tokyo is obviously a goal," Ochal said. "But we have a big task at hand this week and the goal is to win this race. It's a good boat and we just have to row our race well.
"You want to win. You want to win and be on the center of the podium, and not on the side. Some people have asked me about coming back after already winning a medal. And my answer is, I'm not coming back to get fourth, or third or second. If you're here to just place. You should probably go home. If you're not to here to win, or trying out or on the team to win, you're in the wrong spot. If that makes sense," he said.
"The goal is to win. Win here and win in Tokyo."