LONDON - As Natalie Dell walked off the dock and into the crowd of reporters, she was shaking either from excitement or exhaustion – or both. “We did it!” she cried, hugging her teammate, Adrienne Martelli, then bracing herself on the fence, out of breath and beaming.
Dell was celebrating because the Americans earned the bronze in their first international regatta together in women’s quadruple sculls with a time of 6:40.63 Wednesday at Eton Dorney.
“We kind of died in the last 500 meters,” Dell said. “I mean, I felt like we had nothing left. I said, ‘Ten strokes,’ and I didn’t believe myself. I said, ‘You have two left in you!’ and I don’t remember what happened after that, and then we crossed the line.”
Dell, Martelli and two-time Olympian Megan Kalmoe were part of the silver medal-winning boat at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. They added Kara Kohler to the group after the final selection process was completed only a month ago.
“This was our debut, but there was no room for error,” Dell said. “The best way I can describe pulling a boat together is to trust each other right away. The selection process we go through is brutal. We raced enough during the selection process that we knew each other well so we came into the race new to an international regatta but not new to each other.”
After getting out to a strong start in second, they dropped to third by the 1,500 meter mark. They fought through the exhaustion to hold onto third despite a late surge from Australia.
Ukraine, in a time of 6:35.93, wrapped up the gold with a large lead from the start, followed by Germany.
“We went for gold,” Kalmoe said. “We went out hard. We went aggressive and came out with bronze, but we’re happy to bring home a medal. It was a great race. The girls emptied the tank. We had our best performance.”
The two other medal races today were heartbreaking losses for the U.S. The women’s pair finished just shy of bronze with a time of 7:30.39, only 0.2 seconds off third place, which went to New Zealand. Similarly, the men’s eight finished in 5:51.48, only 0.3 behind Great Britain.
In men’s single sculls, Ken Jurkowski will move to the D final after finishing sixth in the semifinal today with a time of 7:56.61. The men’s pair of Tom Peszek and Silas Stafford finished fourth in their semifinal at 6:58.58 and will move on to the B final.