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June Letter from the CEO
June 06, 2012
Dear Fellow Rowers,
Never has there been a more exciting time in our sport. The growth in our programs in the U.S. has been highlighted by our most successful National Learn to Row Day ever and running the second-largest USRowing Youth National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn., this weekend. The success of our elite athletes provides an opportunity for our U.S. Olympic team to shine brightly at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
I thank you, the rowing community, for your tireless work at every level in promoting our sport, striving to keep our standards high and allowing access for all. We all need to do our part for our sport to continue to flourish.
In the most recent issue of Fortune Magazine, an article ran regarding Olympic funding in America. Rowing was called out as a “poor sport.” It is more than ironic that this title was attached to USRowing, as we enjoy one of the most affluent demographics among the United States Olympic family. However, the article reflects the identity of rowing as being a truly amateur sport in the U.S. and emphasizes the need for all of us to support our athletes.
National team budgets in countries like Great Britain, Germany, Australia and Canada are multiples of USRowing’s budget and athletes are fully subsidized, often by the government. In our system, financial support for the team is completely independent from membership revenue, coming instead from private donors, the United States Olympic Committee and corporate partnerships.
This year for the first time, we launched Row to London, a marketing campaign designed to focus attention on our team and to allow the rowing community an opportunity to support the team through fundraising and events. It has been wonderful to see clubs and college alumni groups come together in support of the team and we expect this to continue through the Games. We encourage all of you to get involved.
Two weeks ago, we celebrated the qualification of four additional U.S. entries to the Olympic Games. The shore of the Rotsee in Lucerne, Switzerland was filled with teammates, families and fans who experienced the joy and despair that this final qualification regatta brought to our men and women. In total, USRowing will field boats in 12 of the 14 events in London, placing us fourth in the number of events qualified, behind only Germany with 14 and Great Britain and Australia, with 13 each.
Our prognosis for success in London is good. We have solid medal opportunities in several events with more on the cusp of reaching the podium. All efforts are being made to make this the one of most successful Games in U.S. Olympic history.
The size and quality of our high school and university programs continue to provide strength for future success. I thank all of the coaches and athletes who strive to achieve and who channel the top athletes to our national teams.
I invite the community to join us during the next two months as this Olympic journey comes to fruition. Next week, Olympic Trials will select the final small boat athletes in the men’s pair, women’s pair and men’s single. For the first time in more than a decade, NBC will be telecasting these Olympic Trials and you will be able to share in their excitement and emotion. The remainder of our boats – the men’s and women’s quads and women’s eight – will be selected by June 22.
On June 24th, USRowing is hosting its first Go For the Gold 5k run on Olympic Day in conjunction with a Meet and Greet with the Olympic athletes at our home course at Mercer Park in West Windsor, N.J. This run will benefit America Rows and I invite you all to attend and to meet members of the 2012 Olympic Rowing Team.
The London Games open on July 27th, with rowing beginning on Saturday, July 28th. You can be a part of these Olympic Games by joining the Row To London campaign. Work within your club to form an Olympic fan group, host an Olympics viewing party (all the events will be early a.m. EDT), send messages to our team and help raise funds to support our athletes. This is our sport, and it is time to support the 44 men and women and their coaches who will represent us on the greatest international stage. We are very proud of them all. Let’s show them how much we care.
In closing, there is an adage within the U.S. Olympic movement that is particularly relevant to USRowing: America does not send a team to the Olympics, Americans do.
Glenn Merry, USRowing CEO