A K-Stater at Oxford
Grace Riekenberg, a 2005 graduate and alumna of the
She joins a crew of highly-experienced athletes who have come together from varied backgrounds and countries. Most of her teammates are in their early 20s, but have ample experience competing in the Ivy League in the
"I don't have the experience of my Yale-alumna crewmate or the national squad trialists in the boat," Riekenberg said. "Nevertheless, K-State has put me on the map and I am honored to be an element toward returning the favor."
Riekenberg's start in rowing at K-State didn’t go smoothly. In fact, it took her a while to really grasp the sport.
"Having learned to row at
"Grace could have given up after her second year at K-State,"
Instead of giving up, though, she worked harder hard enough to now be competing among the best women’s rowers in the world.
"It's no surprise to me that Grace has arrived at this level of rowing," Kansas State Head Coach Patrick Sweeney said. "Her dedication and work ethic as a student-athlete here at
The rivalry between
"If I stop and think about it, I realize that I am living history," she said. "Regardless of the outcome on April 1, my name will be indelibly written in time as the No. 3 seat of the 2006 Blue Boat."
The current incarnation of the team is mostly self-funded, and the coaching staff is comprised of those highly dedicated to the sport.
"Because our coaches have 'real lives' in addition to rowing, they can't always be there for us," Riekenberg said. "This is not to say that our coaches in any way sell us short. It does mean, however, that ultimately our training is in our hands. We get out of this experience what we put in."
Riekenberg's routine involves twice-daily training sessions, combining work on the water with activity in the gym. She also manages to fit in more than a few hours pursuing her coursework in Medieval English Literature.
"Most of the time, I just take life one day at a time," she said. "Ultimately, the boat race is only another day in the life ... albeit with an absolutely astounding crew. We can only do what we have prepared ourselves to do."
"It just goes to show you how far great effort will get you," Sweeney said. "Grace is a terrific role model for our current student-athletes, many of whom show the same promise.
"Grace embodies what our program at K-State is all about. We take athletes with no prior rowing experience and can turn them into great rowers. We hope Grace is just the first of many athletes that become truly great rowers because of
Although she may have arrived on the other side of the world, Riekenberg's purple roots run deep.
"At the press conference, all the Blue Boat crews were introduced seat-by-seat," she said. "Some of the other crews were introduced by their universities and degrees. I was proud to have been introduced, instead, by my previous racing experience that I came to the Blue Boat from
While Riekenberg races in the Henley Boat Race, her Wildcats meanwhile, will also be in action this weekend at the 33rd annual San Diego Crew Classic on April 1-2 in
For more information about the Oxford University Women's boat club, log on to: www.ouwbc.com.
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