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NARROW MARGINS

On not making it: Olympic hopefuls explore the agony of ‘almost’.

For each Olympic selection that is definitive or even obvious, another is determined by a delicate margin: a decisecond, a half point, an uncharacteristic performance. A buoy. A bad dinner. Part of the beauty of the Olympics is its straightforwardness: it does not bend with empathy, so the best on the day are the best in the world. Athletes on every level can recognize the implications of this pressure, and the inevitable truth that – for better or worse – it may not yield an honest apex every time, because sometimes one shot is not enough.

But one shot is more than most athletes ever get, and the rousing coverage of Olympic triumph and loss sidesteps thousands of hopefuls who missed Rio by fractions. These athletes, despite having made the same sacrifices as their Olympian teammates, are ultimately left anonymous, watching Opening Ceremonies from their sofas and nursing muscles and moods through post-taper atrophy. The dramatic concentration of their energies fades without the spurts of fanfare and support that in many ways vindicate an athletic career. That the world largely ignored these athletes during the sixteen days of the Olympic competition, for which they had spent years training, is only part of what makes their journeys so interesting.

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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, Paralympic, college, club, ocean, and more.