Following are the scraps of interviews I was able to pull from notes and recordings; given the chaos that follows a regatta, questionable acoustics on the docks, in the mix, and in various press venues, it's somewhat a patchwork of what I could recover, and I'm not always sure who said what, but there are some compelling comments found herein, so I'm posting as is, with my best guesses as to the who and what of the comments. I hope you enjoy despite theses issues.
On getting the silver:
It's taken me 17 years to get here, so I will take any medal. It's perfect.
Andrew Hoskins, six-seat, Canadian men's eight
The pressure has been building just because we've won. I think something our team has been really good at over the past couple of years is that we're not afraid to say we're out to win. There's a difference between saying you want to win and doing absolutely everything you can. We put our best foot forward, and I guess we came a bit short today.
Do you think there's any danger you overtrained?
Not a chance. I feel absolutely fine. It's not a possibility.
What about when the Americans got out like that, did you think there was a bit of a heartkiller in there?
I know that Brian stopped calling where the Americans were about 700 meters into the race. I can't tell you how the race went to the finish, I haven't seen it on tape, and that's usually the only way I know. It's very hard to tell when you're rowing as we are, boing backwards.
Was there a point when you looked out to find out where they were?
I did; I haven't looked out of the boat during this regatta, but I did because I was wondering where the heck they were. I hadn't heard Brian call them for a while, and I knew they should be over to my left somewhere. They were gone. They were well ahead. So that just said to me that we were going for a silver at that point. It really just came down to what we needed to do. One thing I would like to say about the race is that I think we really went for the gold medal, and sometimes when you go for the gold medal you're taking a risk. We weren't aiming to come in second; the US got out in front of us, and I didn't feel like there was a panic in the boat, but I did feel like we attacked it from stroke one.
Chris Ahrens, US men's 8
About the race: I was expecting something completely different; something a lot more like the race it sounds like the women had. I was expecting a knife fight. It's nice to have the race go the way it did. It's pretty rare at this level to have a race where you feel so confident at the 1000.
With 1000 to go, I knew the other crews were strong, but I thought that we had the rhythm and the speed to stay ahead. In the last 250, I knew that if we didn't make any errors, we would win. You dream about having a race like that. Going in I expected a real knife fight, head to head, two to four crews even, just like the four had yesterday. So then to have a great piece, to lead the whole way, it's the way you hoped it would go.
Asked about the time between the heats and finals:
It's a long week, and we had some good rows, then each night we would watch the Games on television. We watched the swimmers every night, and watching the US swimmers win the 4x200 relay, a fantastic race from all of the four guys, you get pumped up, but at the same time you have to keep things under control.
US Women's eight, on what they were thinking at the starting line
Our coach Tom always says when you are on the line to look left and look right to take in where you are. So I did that, and from then on I was just thinking about our race plan, and going for it.
Mary Whipple, race description
Up until the 1000, it was pretty much us and Romania; we were separated no more than a seat to a seat and a half. We kept the focus internal, and just kept pushing and kept pushing, trying to maximize our speed, and I guess that was when they were making a move as well, so by the time we reached the last 500, they had a half length, and we tried to catch them in the last 500, but they were able to hold us off.
Another member of the W8, on what it was like right after their race
Right after our race, we got to watch the men come down; we were jumping around on the dock cheering and clapping and yelling; we train with them, and it was really great to be able to be right there when they won the race.
Your men's eight are here sitting in the back of the tent right now; what would you say to them?
Kate Johnson: I just want to say we're really fucking proud of you guys! Sorry! (cheers from everyone in the room)
The men's eight accomplished what they did with a combination of experience and youth, and what they did today was really awesome to watch.
Over the years since 1964 there have been multiple medals, even gold medals, but none in the Olympics; what was different this year?
Back in September, we committed ourselves to making the fastest eight we could row. But earlier this summer, we also knew we had a fast pair, and we had a fast four. So we assembled three fours and had one boat that was definitely faster than the other two. But once we got the top two fours together in an eight, we did a time trial, and the boat went faster than any eight we've ever had, so that really sealed the deal right there. But when they went to Lucerne and won the four, I felt that these guys, if they wanted to row the four, I was going to let them. And the guys came back and said no, we're going for the eight. I think the thing that makes this really special, is that countless number of Olympian rowers have contacted us, they've given us money, written us notes, given us moral support, they come by to practice, and I really felt that it meant a lot to the team. We were doing this for us, mostly, but we really felt like we needed to end this 40 years of drought, and they did it. And then Carl Lewis came by this morning to wish us luck, and that helped us as well.
You said four years ago you'd never get over it; are you over it now?
No, I'm not over it. Listen, as a coach, you have a responsibility to your athletes, and I had nine great guys in that boat who worked their tails off, and I felt like I let them down and that's something I'm never going to forget, and it won't go away. I feel really happy for these guys, and I'm sure that all nine guys in that boat, and some of them are here… this allows me to sleep for a few months, but it doesn't change that.
You obviously deviated quite a bit from what you did in the heats; was that something that you planned all along, or did you decide not to repeat what you did the last time?
The conditions were very different; in the heats, we had a strong tailwind. I actually said to Bryan "we might need a world record today." But as I told these guys a week ago, we were just trying to win our heat, because there was a chance that the water would be bad in a rep. so today, I think the conditions were more suited to this crew. When I got up this morning and I saw there was a headwind, I thought, well, the Gods were looking over us. The plan wasn't to get out at the start - they had a good start, obviously, but the plan wasn't to get out at the start. The plan was to have a good, clean start, then we thought everyone would be close at the 500, and then about 250 meters later we wanted to attack, and that's were they opened it up. I thought with the headwind it would be a longer race, and I thought that favored us. So that was a change in tactics a little bit. In the heat we thought it would be burn the whole way; today we thought we would race differently with a longer race.
On his first impressions after winning:
Just disbelief. Especially because we could kind of feel it from about the 1000, it just didn't seem real. It was almost like an out of body experience, you felt distanced from the pain, the happiness; just disbelief.
So now you're standing here with a medal, the flowers, the wreath; have you figured it out yet?
To a certain extent, but you always hear people say it hits you later that day; I still feel like it's going to hit me later.
We talked last week about the conditions in the heat, where it was rough out there, and you were just trying to keep things stable in the bow. What was this one like?
Smooth and controlled. It was unbelievable. Sometimes in big races, and this is definitely the biggest race I've ever been in, you feel your own nerves, you feel the nerves of the seven other rowers, and it takes something to settle that. That's sort of what I expected out of the gates, and it just wasn't there. Sometimes people would be trying to do too much, to give 110%, and the rhythm isn't great, although the effort is there. But today everything was in place, the effort, the timing, it was like the stars aligned. It was just perfect.
You've won now in a headwind, and a tailwind; the crew seems to be able to get it done whatever comes up.
That's something I'll always be proud of. Tto have a world record in the heats, then win the final, it was perfect.
The people I take inspiration from are people who come up to us from other countries and congratulate us, or someone like Wylie Strotbeck, the son of a friend of Mike's, who is fighting a brain tumor. He has been through seven bouts of chemo, that's tough. As long as you go out there and you have fun, leave everything on the water, race as hard as you can, whether you win or lose, I think that's okay.
Will you come back?
Uh, I'm not sure! Probably, I guess.
Was Sydney a motivator for you?
It was in the back of my mind, I thought about it off and on. Everybody else was talking about it, so you can't not think about it, it's just there. But you can't approach it like that. This is a new eight, you just go out there to win, and times are different. I think it's great to end that, to let go of it so we can move on, maybe look at what we can do in the smaller boats too.
Was that a monkey on your back?
It was a little bit, and I'm glad to have it off. It's only part of it, but it's good to be done with it.
You guys got it done two different ways - from behind in a tailwind, and from the lead in a headwind.
I think this crew can row in any conditions. We can row from behind, ahead, stroke for stroke all the way down. I was expecting to be down, I really did. I just wanted to be in the race. We knew that other crews would probably try to get as much margin as they could, so our goal was to get out clean and try to be with them, not let them go, and then go ourselves.
So how did you end up leading the whole way?
I don't know, we just had a really great start. I got to 500 meters gone, and I was like, holy shit, these guys behind me are really cranking, because I'm not really doing anything yet! It was nice. It's a good feeling, you know?
Mike Teti says you are the best rower in the world; do you think that's true?
Teti, on Dan Beery
When Dan and Brian are matching together, it's super effective, which you could tell from how that four went. Sometimes Dan gets a little bit like a trainwreck, you know, a little bit too reckless. So we say be a trainwreck, but be on time. And when he does, it really goes, and he can kick at the end.
I'm confident and proud to say that we pushed Romania as hard as anyone has; there is no other country that I would prefer to lose to, so to speak.
Kate Johnson: What Romania has, and what we hope to get today, is a lot of experience, a lot of years going to the Olympics, of lot of years winning gold and silver, and I think it's something that the United States has struggled, to have people come back and train for another four years. I think you're going to see a lot of these faces up here for years to come.
Someone asks about the atmosphere, and the noise from the stands.
Lianne Nelson: The course was great. In our race, I didn't really notice the noise! Our race was pretty tight, so it wasn't until afterward and we were watching the men come down that I thought wow, it's really loud!
Mary Whipple: It definitely feels great to do something that no other US women's crew has done on a 2000 meter course, and knowing coming into today that it was probably going to take 1999 meters to prove who earns to go home with a medal. Especially with these eight girls pulling me around, it was a great ride. I think I have the best seat in the house.
Asked to describe his emotions about winning four years after Sydney:
This was really about coming back after 2000 and trying to redeem ourselves from what happened in Sydney. Over the past couple years that has been the main focus, at least for me and a couple other guys in the group, and today it's really emotional to go out and win with these guys.
Dan Beery takes us through the race.
Our whole plan was very clear and very simple. We were only here for one reason, and it's one of the mantras. We weren't here to sightsee, we haven't even been to the Bank of America spread; we had one purpose, we thought we had a fast crew. Uhh - I really don't think a whole lot in the race, I leave that to Cip and Bryan and our coach. Our stroke man Bryan, I've never rowed with anyone like him, he has the heart of a lion, and he's probably the best active starboard in the business, and we had some amazing races. And Beau Hoopman here never says a word, and all of a sudden I hear Beau say "bowball," meaning we're far enough ahead that he could see the bowball of the other crews, and I just looked over and thought "oh my gosh;" we were a length up on everybody. Toward the end of the race, when coach takes a look at the tape I think I made a couple of ugly strokes, because I was pretty tired. So I just tried to keep it right with Bryan, to match his acceleration curve, and wait for those guys to slam the door shut at the end of the race. More than our power, I think that our spirit is what carried us along. Does that answer your question?
Question about the caliber of the field
I think that this year, and the main reason that we put our best people in the eight is because most of these other countries did as well. Canada had their best people in the eight, they're two-time world Champions. I was pretty nervous about Australia because they put Mike McKay in the boat, a four-time Olympic medalist, Bo Hansen is a three-time Olympic medalist, the Stewart brothers two-times; the eight was basically their priority boat as well. And then when the Dutch scrapped their double, and put their silver medal double and some former gold medalists from the 96 Olympics in the eight, we knew they were going to be a factor. So when people ask why we put that four from Lucerne into the eight, it was because we needed to. If we were going to win, we needed to have the best people. So I think that the level of the eight was very high - I think the heats showed that - bt because it was a headwind in the final, that's generally when you're going to get some separation, and I think the conditions really played in our favor. I thought thank God those headwinds showed up today; but even then, they did set a world record in the tailwind, so... (smiles and shrugs)
Can you compare today to 2000 how you felt after the race today?
I don't think they're comparable at all. After 2000 I just wanted to crawl into a hole. I don't think I slept for a whole week. Now, I don't want to do anything. I want to sit around, I want to enjoy it. It's a peaceful feeling, a feeling of freedom.
Question about rivalry with Canada
We don't look at it as a rivalry, I don't think; I think our focus is just to get our bowball ahead no matter who it is. The guys from Canada, I think I can relate to how they are feeling, because we finished the same way. You know, winning two years in a row, three years in a row for us, and taking fifth, we did the same thing. There's a lot of pressure; when you're the World Champions going into the Olympics, you have the whole world chasing you down, and that's pretty tough. So, we looked at it as if we could go with Canada, we could win. It wasn't a rivalry; it was more that we were second, so if we could beat them, we could beat everybody else.
Did the 40-year drought inspire you during the race, during your training?
I think that for me, I know a lot of the rowing history, and I'm interested in it because one thing that I've learned is that there have been great champions in the past, and you can learn something from them. So the chance to meet people from the great crews - and there have been great crews that won silver medals, or won bronze medals, and great crews that won a world championships but it didn't happen for them in the Olympics - to meet and know those people, knowing that history, it was inspiring to me to meet those people and be involved with them.
On the other hand, I think that for us, we talked to those people - Tony Johnson came and chatted with us, and said "you shouldn't think about that. You should go and think about your race, and rowing your race." I think that we had come to the same conclusion ourselves in that, while we valued this, this was a race that we were going to row in, and what happened four years ago had very little to do with what happened today in the sense that there wasn't much that we would get from focusing on that. The nice thing is that, now that we have won, I feel like we can become part of that history and part of that community, and so when you go to a dinner, or you go to the Head of the Charles, it's great to be part of that group.
Also, in many ways I feel that there are lots of other people who deserve to win gold medals, who did not for whatever reason, people who are way better than me. And that goes for four years ago, and 10 years ago, and 20 years ago. I've been thinking about them a lot since we won, guys like Porter Collins, or Tom Bohrer, or Bob Kaehler, and there are other people throughout the whole history of the past 30 or 40 years of American rowing who have been fabulous oarsmen, who worked hard every day, but on that particular day it didn't come together for whatever reason, maybe who were unlucky, more or less. So we were very fortunate to be a little bit lucky, and to have things turn out the way they did; it's a great feeling, particularly after 2000.
Did you have a monkey on your back you had to chase off?
Not so much with the 40 year thing, but personally, although I've been lucky enough to have had a pretty good career in rowing, I saw that career through the prism of our defeat in 2000 - the experience of going in as the favorite and losing, but more the experience of things going wrong, knowing they're going wrong and almost feeling there was nothing you can do about it. Also, I felt like we had a great series of crews filled with fantastic guys who were hardworking good people, great rowers, and it was almost a bummer to me that when we got together, it is always going to be tinged with melancholy around 2000. So part of me coming back to row at all was just kind of to say, let me get this out of my system and go row and have it be a positive experience again, to have athletics and the Olympics, the whole thing, be positive. Every time I saw the rings it just reminded me. So while the memories of 2000 are not erased, and I really feel a strong connection to the guys I raced with in 2000, as strong a connection as I feel to these guys here, it is a great personal redemption to win here.
Pete, is there a time when you are going to take off your wreath?