Gold In Women's Eight Earned Her Celebrity Stature
LONDON, England – The 2012 Summer Olympics came to and end on Sunday, but the memories will last a lifetime for Yale rower Taylor Ritzel '10. Ritzel won a gold medal with the United States women's eight on Aug. 2 during the first week of the Games.
"On the medal stand as the national anthem was playing I was very overcome with emotion, something I didn't expect to be honest," Ritzel wrote in an email from London late last week. "Not only was I so honored to bring home the gold for the United States with my teammates, but I also realized that my personal journey to that point had been full of some ups and a few really low downs. It was an amazing experience to know that hard work and humility pay off, one that I will never forget."
Ritzel, who became the first Yalie to win a gold medal since sailor Jonathan McKee in 1984, remained in London after the rowing competition to enjoy the rest of the Olympic experience. She and her crew mates became celebrities following the gold medal performance, appearing on NBC's Today Show and Access Hollywood. Ritzel was even interviewed by Bruce Jenner.
"Usually rowing isn't a high-profile sport so being wined and dined is something I could definitely get used to," she said.
More importantly, though, Ritzel celebrated with her family. Her father and sister were among her many supporters who made the trip to the Games.
"I made sure to spend time with my friends and family," she said. "They have been just so amazing and supportive of me, and I feel so lucky to have them."
Ritzel also was able to take in some of the other events. She went to the track and field, triathlon, boxing and basketball venues.
"I loved seeing these other sports up close and seeing the world's best athletes walk around the Olympic village," she said. "I tried to take in all the Olympic hype."
NBC Connecticut Video of Taylor Ritzel Following Gold Medal
View more videos at: http://nbcconnecticut.com.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity