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Rowing for Paralympic gold

Oklahoma City-based rowers Emma Preuschl and Andrew Johnson to compete in Paralympics in London
by Ed Godfrey Published: August 25, 2012
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/articleid/3704275/1/pictures/1809076">Photo - Andrew Johnson, second from left, and Emma Preuschl, third from left, will represent the United States in the Paralympic Games that start Aug. 29 in London. The two rowers train at the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City.  PHOTO PROVIDED BY Allison Frederick
Andrew Johnson, second from left, and Emma Preuschl, third from left, will represent the United States in the Paralympic Games that start Aug. 29 in London. The two rowers train at the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City. PHOTO PROVIDED BY Allison Frederick

Johnson also has been rowing since he was 14. His inspiration was not an aunt, but a young girl that he liked who was interested in rowing.

“Isn't that the motivation for everything when you are a 14-year-old guy?” he said.

The girl he had a crush on didn't continue rowing, but Johnson discovered he could make boats go fast.

“It was really a great sport for me and I loved it,” Johnson said.

After failing to qualify for the U.S. National Team on two previous tries, Johnson made it for the first time in 2009. He believes that his blindness actually works in his favor when he is rowing with a crew.

“In some ways, blindness has been an advantage for me because I have to go by what I am feeling in the boat,” he said. “Some people tell me their vision is actually a distraction. I take my blindness as something of a blessing in that regard.”

Both Preuschl and Johnson moved to Oklahoma City after the Oklahoma River became a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site for rowing.

They believe their boat is fast enough to win a medal in London. Preuschl said her current crew is faster than the U.S. boat that she was on in 2008, which won a silver medal, but every country has improved.

“Our time from four years ago would be eighth place this year,” she said. “That's how much the competition has gotten better. Every country is faster than they were last year. It's anyone's race, but I feel our crew is really fast. I feel good about that.”

Johnson is confident the U.S. crew can not only medal, but win the gold medal.

“We have a lot of speed this year,” he said. “We are going in looking for that gold medal spot and pretty confident it is within our reach. “

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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