When Caroline Lind ’06 and her U.S. rowing teammates won Olympic gold in the women’s eight, they hugged, cried, smiled, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” with gusto on the medal stand. And in the week that followed, whenever they left the Athletes Village, the gold medals came with them.
“I don’t know if many athletes wear their medals,” Lind said, “but my entire team was like, ‘We’re wearing them!’” At clubs and restaurants and on the streets of Beijing, the women were treated like celebrities. By the time Lind returned home, her medal had a tiny nick near the bottom, and its ribbon was starting to pill like an old T-shirt. “It’s well-loved,” she said.
Lind was one of 15 Princeton alumni and students who traveled to Beijing as Olympic athletes or coaches. One of her classmates, Steve Coppola, also won a rowing medal, earning bronze with the U.S. men’s eight, which chased Canada and Great Britain in the event final. “I don’t think that we could have done anything differently and come out with a better race,” Coppola said in an e-mail. “In the end, those two crews were faster than us on that day and it showed, but we still went down
In women’s soccer, Diana Matheson ’08 played for Canada in the quarter-finals, losing 2–1 to the U.S. team that eventually won gold. German equestrian star Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum ’92 finished fourth in individual jumping, missing bronze by 0.12 seconds.
Lind was Princeton’s star of the games, adding to an already impressive rowing résumé. In college, she was her team’s top athlete — “she crushed every record we had on the erg [training machine], in any distance,” coach Lori Dauphiny said — and a leader on the water as well. She stroked the open women’s eight to an NCAA title in her final collegiate race in May 2006. Three months later, she helped the U.S. women’s eight win the world championships. Lind and her teammates repeated the feat in 2007.
Back-to-back world titles might have made the United States a favorite in Beijing, but Lind expected a close race against top rivals Romania and Canada. Instead, the Americans dominated, building a lead of nearly two seconds in the first half of the 2,000-meter race and maintaining that margin through the finish.
After a post-race press conference, Lind placed a cell-phone call to Dauphiny, who had watched the event live on the Internet. “The excitement in her voice was priceless,” Dauphiny said of Lind’s call.
Nine days later, Lind made a brief stop in Princeton, where she lives and trains, before traveling to her hometown of Greensboro, N.C. In the coming year, she plans to focus on her career goals and apply to law school. But she will keep an eye out for schools in areas where she can continue training. She wants to row for gold again at the London Olympics in 2012.
“There’s nothing like it,” Lind said. “It’s the pinnacle of what we can achieve as rowers. We don’t have the World Series or the Super Bowl. We have the Olympics. That’s what we train our whole lives for.”
SAM LOCH ’06, rowing
JAMIE FARIS ’04, rowing (alternate)
DIANA MATHESON ’08, soccer
ANDREANNE MORIN ’06, rowing
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM ’92, equestrian
KONRAD WYSOCKI ’04, basketball
DOUG LENNOX ’09, swimming
DAVID BLATT ’81, basketball (coach)
BRYAN TAY ’12, swimming
SIMON CARCAGNO ’98, rowing (alternate)
STEVE COPPOLA ’06, rowing
SANDRA FONG ’12, shooting
CAROLINE LIND ’06, rowing
LIA PERNELL ’03, rowing
PAUL TETI ’01, rowing