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Under the leadership of US women’s coach Tom Terhaar Caryn Davies won Olympic gold medals in the US women’s eight in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, as well as a silver medal in Athens 2004. She is now the United States’ second most decorated Olympic rower.

Here she talks to her former coach.

It has been six years since I retired from elite international competition, and I still dream – quite literally – of a nod and a “good job” from the USA women’s national team coach, Tom Terhaar. And in those rare instances where my sleeping mind grants me my wish, my entire next day is made: I float through my waking hours utterly certain of my capability.

How is it that this person commands such authority? Perhaps it’s because he’s so sparing in his praise. Tom chooses his words carefully, and those who seek his approbation must earn it. Or perhaps it’s inherent in his position. Olympic dreams live and die according to his decisions. I suspect it is some combination of the two.

Whatever the cause, his influence is undeniable. And I’ve long suspected that he cultivates it through deliberate action.

Before every training session, the team gathers around the white-board at the door of the boat bay to receive instructions for the workout. Tom is several inches shorter than most of the athletes, yet manages to appear larger than life and command the room completely as he delivers his monologue. Surely he practices this technique in the mirror at home?

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.