When Tom Peszek and Silas Stafford were not selected for the United State's men's eight man with coxswain Olympic crew, their pride was hurt.
The two rowers who train in Oklahoma City just missed the cut for the boat that is rowed prominently by collegiate programs around the country.
“We had spent the past six or seventh months trying to make the eight,” Peszek said. “We were the last two guys not selected. It was kind of a crushing moment for both of us.”
“I definitely felt I deserved to be in there,” Stafford said. “I understand the coaches' perspective, but I definitely think they made the wrong decision. It's not fun to get cut ever.”
However, the two rowers turned their disappointment into motivation and won the Olympic Trials in the men's pair, each earning their first berth to the Olympic Games.
While training for the men's pair the past two months, the Oklahoma City rowers would “remind each other we were passed over and we would use that to fire ourselves up a little bit,” Peszek said.
“Making the two-man crew we had to win. We had to win the trials to make the boat. It wasn't a matter of convincing the coach we were good. It wasn't a matter of the coach picking us. We had to go out and win. It was really satisfying to actually go out and do that.”
Peszek, 27, a native of Michigan, was one of the first rowers to move to Oklahoma City and begin training in the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River.
A former collegiate rower at the University of Michigan, Peszek aspired to make the U.S. National Team after leaving Ann Arbor.
Peszek moved to San Francisco with hopes of joining and training at a “high-level rowing club, but they wouldn't have anything to do with me,” he said.
He then saw a posting on the Internet about the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City. He sent an email to coaches and received an invitation to come and train on the Oklahoma River, despite being told by some in San Francisco that he could never achieve his Olympic dreams in Oklahoma City.