Exactly 10 years ago, to the day (Aug 14, 2004), Artour Samsonov and I lined up for and rowed in our heat at the Athens Olympic Games… making this, arguably, my most memorable and important #tbt ever.
Artie, I am honored to have shared the journey with you, especially in the final two years before the Games which were spent training out of the Newell Boathouse at that “small liberal arts college” in Cambridge, Mass.
To list all the friends and family who helped us realize this lifelong dream would make for a rather lengthy post… There are far too many to thank.
That being said, the short list obviously includes my parents, Edward and Noreen M. Walton, and my brothers Matt and Eric Edward Walton. Without my family, and their undying insistence that I be true to myself and that I follow my passions in life, none of this would have been possible.
I would like to send a special thanks to our coaches, whose excellent guidance helped us navigate the training and racing necessary to get us to that starting line in 2004. Charley Butt and Bill Manning, thank you. Offering your time, attention, expertise, and wisdom is something Artour and I could never repay. But please know just how much we appreciate it. Thank you for believing in us and for taking us under your wing.
Also, a big thanks to our excellent training partners, and fellow Olympians, Aquil Abdullah, Henry Nuzum, Steve Tucker, and Greg Ruckman. I am confident that the daily competition between our three boats was perhaps the most vital element in giving us the edge necessary to perform and to realize our collective dream.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank Stephen Gladstone. Coach, if I become half the man you are today, I will be satisfied. Thank you for the years at Cal. Thank you for creating in me, and in so many of my Cal teammates, the necessary building blocks for us to take our rowing to the next level on the world stage. I was, and continue to be profoundly impacted by my years under your guidance.
Representing the United States in competition at the Olympic Games on this day ten years ago was a lifelong dream come true. And the best part of it all… rowing is the most consummate of team sports. To recognize that I could not have done this alone, and to know that I played a part in helping others reach a shared goal makes this day, and the journey leading up to it, that much more meaningful.
I’m very doubtful I will have another Throwback Thursday that eclipses this one. And I am perfectly content with that thought.