“I would like to tell myself I could have made it anyway (to the Olympics), but I can't imagine how I would have made it without Oklahoma City. It has definitely delivered on all the promises.”
Stafford, 24, rowed for UCLA before transferring to Stanford's powerhouse program. He moved to Oklahoma City to train at the urging of Peszek.
Stafford was a track standout in high school, running the mile in a personal best four minutes, 26 seconds. He turned to rowing in college because he wanted to continue to compete.
Now, he will be competing on the world's biggest stage, the Olympic Games.
“This is the pinnacle of rowing,” Stafford said. “For everyone there, it's kind of do or die. There is no next year for the Olympics. Obviously, the intensity is going to be much higher than it is at other (international) races.”
Stafford wasn't a kid who always dreamed of making the Olympics, but winning the Olympic Trials left him with feeling of elation and vindication because he was passed over for the prestigious eight-man boat.
“I've gotten hundreds of emails and phone calls from old friends and people I haven't talked to in years (since making the Olympic),” Stafford said. “It's been pretty cool.”
The first time Stafford and Peszek actually raced in a men's pair event was during the Olympic Trials. They admit they will be a dark horse at the Olympic Games in London.
“We are kind of in the shadows a little bit,” Peszek said. “It's kind of nice because I don't think there are very many expectations for us.”
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