Silas Stafford (Gonville & Caius 2008)
Update: after disappointment regarding the US Men's Eight selections, Silas and his partner in the US
Men's pair, Tom Peszek, came second in the B final, resulting in a rank of 8th overall.
Silas has been selected to row in the Men's Pair for the USA. You can find his official profile
on the US Rowing website.
Hoping to qualify for:
Winnng feels like: “It’s an amazing feeling –you immediately forget all the pain and suffering you’ve experienced in the training and the race."
“I started rowing in my freshman year at UCLA. I took to it immediately, though I certainly wasn’t a superstar and winning races right away. The standard there was akin to collegiate rowing at Cambridge. I transferred to Stanford, where they have what’s called a varsity programme for rowing. There was more infrastructure and funding, and it was at a far higher level.
At that time, I didn’t really think I had a talent, though of course I wanted to see how far I could go. In the US, most rowers quit after they leave university, and the idea of going on to compete at the Olympics would have seemed preposterous. It was only at Cambridge, where the standard is so much higher, that I realised this was something I really enjoyed and wanted to keep doing.
I was only at Cambridge for one Boat Race, and made it to the Blue Boat. I didn’t find the experience intimidating, but it was certainly impressive. Rowing is a minority sport in the US and isn’t much followed. A great part of the attraction of the Boat Race was that it enjoys such recognition. But preparing for the Boat Race and trying to be a full-time student at the same time is almost impossible. Everyone who has trained with CUBC has had to make sacrifices – in their studies, or as it was for most of us, in social life. You miss out on a lot of things.
One thing I’ll always remember from my training in Cambridge was when it snowed. I’m from California, and snow is something you only see in the mountains and when you’re skiing. So there I was, with another Australian from Brisbane, and we were stunned by these conditions, making snowballs and sliding around. The English and Canadians thought we were crazy, and just got on with it!
Every sports career has its ups and downs. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve continued to improve over my whole career, possibly because I started rowing so late. I haven’t really had any plateaus in terms of my physiological ability, though I’ve had them in terms of success – in winning races.
We took a few days off for Christmas and New Year, but now everyone in the US is focused on making the team for the Olympics. Once the team is named, the goals are obvious. Winning a medal will mean we’ve been reasonably successful, and winning a gold would be very successful. But if you get a fourth place, you may as well be tenth.”