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A day after Harriet Taylor received confirmation that she was heading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a part of Great Britain’s rowing team, her Olympic dreams came to a halt. As COVID-19 spread internationally, the Games were postponed and her qualification was voided.
Dismissed from Olympic training, Taylor spent the next seven months training by herself. She eventually rejoined her teammates at the training centers and withstood the same months of competition that she underwent a year prior. She qualified for the Games again as planned.
“I actually found the second year, I think, easier than the first,” Taylor said. “You just sort of have a bit of a cheat sheet to the first year.”
Four years after finishing her collegiate career at Syracuse, Taylor will join the British rowing team at her first appearance at the Olympics. Since making the leap to the professional level in 2017, Taylor has collected two World Championships, two European Championships and five World Cups.
Taylor’s success with the British rowing team came in the traditional 8-boat, but in addition to the unexpected abnormalities on her journey to the Olympics, Taylor also had to switch to a different style of competition. She qualified in the women’s coxless 4-boat, where the role of each rower is less defined as there is no coxswain leading on-water communications.
Because of this change, Taylor initially took charge with the majority of calls before the crew shifted to more of a mixed system of communication as the Games approached. Now, “everyone does a bit of everything,” she said.
After requalifying, Taylor’s training sessions became increasingly rigorous. In the final weeks before leaving for Tokyo, the team went on a training camp in Italy for several weeks. Her days began at 6:30 a.m. and were packed with multiple rowing sessions on the water as well as exercising with weights and rowing machines at the gym.
But Taylor wasn’t phased by her intense schedule. She was able to perfect her ability to handle a tough schedule and learned to “persevere” as a member of the varsity 1V 8-boat at Syracuse, she said.
Taylor made her way to Syracuse after receiving only a few offers after high school. She decided to take a gap year and move to Australia, where she met with Syracuse recruiters.
“I was just really impressed by the effort that the coaches had put in,” Taylor said. “I liked that it was a slightly smaller program that I could come into and try and work to help improve the program over my time there.”
While at SU, teammates saw Taylor as a natural leader, former Syracuse rower Shannon McCann said. Taylor and McCann went through the SU women’s rowing program together from 2013 to 2017, and they served as co-captains during their senior year.
While she was captain, Taylor earned spots on the Division I Pocock Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-America Second Team, the CRCA All-Region 3 First Team and an honorable mention on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team.
She was one of those people who was born to be an Olympian
Zoe Preston, former Syracuse rower
Taylor’s success at Syracuse came from her natural talent and work ethic in training sessions, former Syracuse rower Zoe Preston said. Taylor’s biggest training achievement was in the middle of her senior season on the 2,000-meter rowing machine test, which tracks how fast a rower can finish that distance individually. She finished the test in less than six minutes and 50 seconds, making it the fastest 2,000-meter time in Syracuse history.
“Breaking seven is a huge milestone,” McCann said. “To have day-to-day responsibilities like everyone else and carry on with her day but just be so good at what she was doing on the rowing team was really incredible to me.”
Taylor spent her summers away from Syracuse as a part of Great Britain’s U-23 team, winning a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships in 2015. After her college career, Taylor seamlessly transitioned onto Great Britain’s senior team, following her Olympic dreams.
“What I would consider really challenging or one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, for (Taylor) it was just easy,” Preston said. “She was one of those people who was born to be an Olympian.”
The post Former SU rower prepares for 2020 Olympics after COVID-19 canceled Games appeared first on The Daily Orange.