Silas, 2012 has been a true roller coaster for you, but now you're on one of the high loops. Did you show a lot of emotion the moment you made the team?
Yeah, it was a pretty incredible experience. January and
February, I was rowing very well trying for the 8-man boat. Then I
broke my rib. All the training and suffering from the past three
years that had been bottled up, it all just rushed out when I
crossed the finish line. I was just yelling for no reason.
You mention the years of training
required to make the Olympic team. What was your key to
maintaining necessary focus throughout it all?
You have to focus on really subtle things. I focus on just
trying to get one inch further per stroke, on being just a little
more efficient. There's a certain mentality that you need to have
success in rowing. You have to embrace suffering and embrace hard
work. Talent can be beaten by hard work.
Since you were a runner in high
school, you started
rowing in college.
How much has your running
background translated into your rowing success?
Running and rowing have a lot in common, since they're both
aerobic sports. In the boat, the race is about 5-7 minutes long, so
it's comparable to running a mile. Running was helpful, since I
already had an aerobic base. I knew how to work hard and manage
suffering. It helped developed the mental tricks I use to get
through a race.
Give me an example of a 'mental
trick' that you use to get through a race.
I tell myself that I'm going to stay on a fast pace for 30
seconds. Then, 30 seconds later, say 'OK, another 30 seconds.' Piece
by piece, you trick yourself to build a great effort. You have to do
this, because pain and suffering come before the halfway mark. Your
body's limits are never where you think they are.
You're a West Coast guy (Santa
Rosa), but rowing has a reputation of being an East Coast sport.
Do you sense a shift in the balance of power toward the Pacific?
Yeah, there's been a shift to the West Coast over the last 15 years.
Washington, Cal, and Wisconsin have all won national titles. Rowing
is no longer a sport dominated by the East Coast.
You're an Olympian now. Any perks
[Laughs] Every day, there's a new perk that's really fun. I
got my first package of gear the other day, with clothes that say
'USA' on them. It really starts to sink in when your babysitter from
when you were five years old calls you.
Any idea of what you'll do after
the London Games?
I studied geology at Stanford. I'm very interested in
geothermal energy. I'll figure it all out after London. Right now,
it's still all about that.
David Lombardi, a TV and radio
(95.7 The Game SF) personality in the Bay Area, is a Stanford and
Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on
KZSU for several years. You can check out several of his Stanford
calls and other writing at www.davidlombardisports.com.
Silas Stafford Realizes the Olympic Dream
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