Some Bumps in the Road Lead to a GOLD Medal

We have had a busy and challenging past couple of months with many bumps in the road. Unfortunately, due to an ongoing issue in Anna’s forearms, we couldn’t complete the Europeans at the end of May. Anna immediately flew home to Fort Lauderdale to then be diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome. This condition meant that if she wanted to continue sailing, surgery (bilateral fasciotomy) was required. Obviously, it was an easy decision for our team on whether to go through with the operation. The only potential negative outcome was that Anna wouldn’t recover in time for the Pan-American Games at the end of July. The surgeon said recovery could take anywhere from six weeks to three months. Three weeks after the first of two surgeries at the University of Miami, Anna began physical rehabilitation.  Daily, she spent hours working with the team of physical therapists at Force Physical Therapy. During this time, Riley suffered from a back injury that took some recovery time as well. He worked with multiple doctors and physical therapists to heal his back and get his strength back. After Riley recovered from his injury, he sailed with Evan Heffernan and the other US Nacra17 teams in Long Beach, CA. We are so thankful that someone could fill in for Anna while she was getting better. The doctor cleared Anna five weeks after surgery, allowing for a week of training in Long Beach, CA before heading to the Pan-American Games in Peru. We had a fun and challenging week re-familiarizing ourselves with each other and for Anna, easing back into the more intense training post-op. We came away from the short training block ready and excited to represent the USA in Peru! The surgery was a great decision for our team, and we both feel that nothing is holding us back anymore!

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We had an amazing time representing the USA at the Pan-American Games in Peru! The incredible experience and atmosphere were something we can’t put into words. It was a fun week battling it out with lots of talented sailors, and we are proud to bring back a GOLD medal to the United States. This medal meant a lot to us for coming back from surgery/injury with not much time back in the boat together before competition. Along with the medal, we also earned the USA a country spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the Nacra17 event! This achievement was so exciting for us because now we can keep pushing to focus on the U.S. Olympic Team Trials which will take place in Auckland, New Zealand at the end of November and in Geelong, Australia in February of next year.

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Straight after Peru, we flew to Enoshima, Japan to compete in the Olympic Test Event and World Cup Enoshima. With very little turnaround time, we were competing only a couple days after arriving in Japan. The jetlag and heat were an extreme challenge and really tested us as a team. We didn’t have the results we wanted; however we did come away as a stronger and better team. After the test event, we had a week to rest before the World Cup. Unfortunately, due to extreme weather conditions, the race committee was only able to run five of the scheduled twelve races. We were disappointed we couldn’t get more racing in, but sometimes the weather isn’t on your side! We sailed in conditions we had never seen before, allowing us to really test the limits and learn what we might expect next year at the Olympic Games.

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We have had a long, challenging, fun and rewarding past couple of months, and we are hungry for continued improvement. We loved the feeling we got when stepping on the top of the podium in Peru. We are excited to keep pushing in our next phase of training all the way to the Olympic Games. We want to thank our supporters from the bottom of our hearts. We wouldn’t be able to train, compete, eat, sleep, travel, etc. without all of your generous contributions. Words can’t describe how much it means to us to have so many of you be a part of our team and our journey. We are looking forward to sharing lots more memories and medals with you!