Karen Petrik, a 2015 Glastonbury High School graduate, recently helped guide United States rowing to a silver medal in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Petrik was the coxswain for the PR3 Mixed 4+ rowing team that finished second to Great Britain on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay on August 29. Petrik, along with Allie Reilly, Dani Hansen, Charley Nordin, and John Tanguay, engineering a boat that won a qualifying heat to reach the finals before besting France (bronze), Australia, Italy, and Israel in the medal round. After winning silver, the five became the only U.S. rowers (both Olympic and Paralympic) to medal during the Summer Games in Japan.
The Glastonbury native returned home earlier this month to start her new job teaching 4th grade at Hopewell School. Petrik reflected on her experience representing the United States.
Outside of rowing, what was the best part of your experience in Tokyo?
“Meeting all the athletes and being around all the countries and athletes. It was an eye-opening experience and kind of surreal. Just being in that environment was very special.”
Describe the feeling of being on the medal stand? What was going through your mind?
“I took time to stop and look around and take it all in, and make sure I was as present in the moment that I could be. I was thinking how special it was and how lucky I was to be there. I know a lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so I was grateful to be up there and thinking about all the people at home that supported me and got me there.”
Talk about the bond you developed with your teammates and coaches?
“Sharing a medal with your teammates is so special. At the end of the race, we were so proud of each other that we had come this far in such a short amount of time. I think we will be bonded for life over this. They are people who I’ll feel a special connection with for the rest of my life.”
What will you remember most about the entire experience from start to finish?
“It was very refreshing to be there. The Paralympics are so special, and I felt so honored to be able to be there and be a part of it.”
What’s next, more rowing?
“I’m definitely going to step back for the next couple of months and just take a breath and take this all in. But I could see myself missing rowing very quickly. I’ll get back into it somehow, whether is coxing or whether it is coaching, but I definitely still want to be a part of it in the future.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin