U-M rower wins gold at Rio Olympics
ANN ARBOR—Pure joy.
That’s how University of Michigan graduate student Amanda Elmore describes earning the gold medal with the U.S. women’s eight rowing team at the Rio Olympics.
“When we crossed the line I felt pure happiness and awe that we had won,” she said. “I’m so happy we could perform under that pressure. I feel so proud to be a part of this group of women.”
Elmore said the race was very competitive and she pushed herself hard to make sure they won, even though her body was screaming for air, in pain, over the last 500 meters. When they docked, she realized she felt lightheaded.
“I was pretty drained on the medals dock, but felt better after catching my breath and eating some food,” she said. “It’s amazing what you can make your body do when you want something so badly.”
Her medal marks the first time a Michigan rowing program alumna has earned gold at the Olympics. It is also the third medal overall in the history of the program.
With Elmore in the stroke seat—the rower in the seat closest to the stern who sets the rhythm and pace—the U.S. team battled top crews from Canada and the Netherlands in the first thousand meters of the race.
They were in third place just a few seats off the lead. The eight athletes pulled in front by several seats, just before the 1,500-meter mark, and increased its margin in the final stages of the race, finishing in 6:01.49.
It’s Elmore’s first time in Brazil, she said the rowing venue was spectacular with mountains surrounding the course and the famous statue — Estátua do Cristo Redentor — to look up at. She has been impressed not only by the competition, but also by the public support.
“The locals and volunteers are thrilled to be hosting the Olympics and are extremely helpful and kind in every interaction,” she said. “I can see they have worked really hard to give us a good experience.”
“I’ve tried some delicious food (and caipirinhas!), relaxed on the beach, visited the botanical gardens and attended other sporting events. Everything has been safe and fairly easy,” she said.
A big gymnastics fan, Elmore also was able to talk to some of the gymnasts a few times in the village.
“I got to attend the balance beam final and watch some of my favorites compete,” she said. “It’s fun to watch other athletes working towards their dreams in different sports.”
U-M in Rio
The University of Michigan is well represented at this year’s Olympic Games with 33 athletes and coaches competing. Together with Elmore, they have won six gold, two silver medals and two bronze medals.