Two-time gold medalist Erin Cafaro MacKenzie joins with Sara Hendershot to train for 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.
While the lineup might have changed, the goal of the elite rowers of West Coast University sponsored racing team remains the same — Olympic gold in 2016.
“We’ve been together for four weeks and it’s been pretty great,” said Sara Hendershot of her new boat mate, two-time Olympic gold medal rower Erin Cafaro MacKenzie.
MacKenzie, 31, was coaching Hendershot and her former rowing partner Taylor Ritzel in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil. When Ritzel stepped away in February, MacKenzie put down the stopwatch and picked up an oar.
“I had retired, but I guess I never really hung up the towel,” MacKenzie said. “I was still working out five to six times a week doing Crossfit for my health and also to learn more about movement to become a better coach. It was hard for me to sit and tell the girls to do something without being able to show it. Now the pressure is really on to practice what I preach.”
Besides having two Olympic gold medals in her trophy case, MacKenzie was named USRowing’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2009 and was part of the World Rowing Female Crew of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
Hendershot, 26, said when she joined the National Rowing Team in 2010, MacKenzie was someone she looked up to and tried to emulate.
“I spent a lot of time watching her from afar and being amazed by her,” Hendershot said. “Now it’s more about learning about each other when you’re in the boat together.”
Training out of Newport Sea Base in Newport Beach, Calif., the pair has ramped up their workouts for April’s National Selection Regatta in Princeton, N.J.
“It’s a game-changer for us and the changes are actually really good training motivation,” Hendershot said. “We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without West Coast University. It makes our journey possible.”