Olympic Rower Megan Kalmoe: ‘I Will Row Through Shit For You, America’


Megan Kalmoe is a U.S. women’s crew rower who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the quadruple sculls event, and now she’s back, aiming for bigger things at the Rio Games.

Kalmoe has invested a good portion of her life to this, so excuse her if she feels that the press is somewhat-literally crapping on her dreams. In a column for The Guardian recently, Kalmoe took the U.S. media to task for all of its reporting on the pollution at Olympic sites in Rio. Most specifically, the waterways which will be used for boating and marathon swimming events beginning in two weeks.

A bloated corpse was found recently floating in the bay where kayak and rowing events will take place in Rio, and authorities have found that pollution levels there are much higher than recently thought. But there we go again, focusing on the bad, instead of the good. Excerpts from Kalmoe’s article:

I am incredibly excited for this trip, and this opportunity. I have worked for 10 years to get to this point and will continue to work as hard as I can over the next few weeks to make the most of this very special and unique opportunity.

But all you want to do is talk about shit in the water.

My request to everyone who is fixated on shit in the water: stop. Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for us.

I can’t say that I’m on board with Kalmoe here: since when is it the media’s job to make sure that your Olympic experience isn’t “ruined”? Donald Trump might say (and has): “The media is ruining my election experience!” Same thing?

But she expresses herself well and this is an interesting read.

I can’t be sure when the first headlines about the water quality in Rio appeared and the conversation really started. But ever since then, it seems like it’s all people want to talk about. And I can’t really understand why. At this point, it is known that there are issues with the water quality. It is known that athletes are going to be at risk for illness. It is known that we are going to have to be smart, hygienic and take precautions. Great. Let’s move on.

What purpose does it serve to dwell on this? What benefit can we possibly gain from drilling athletes on their position on the water quality in Rio? None. Or nothing good, anyway.

Then Kalmoe works up to full ramming speed:

We are supposed to be a team – all of us – and those of you covering our stories, and those of you resting comfortably in your intellectual armchairs are supposed to have our backs. … So tell me again why you want to talk about poop?

If you are that insecure about where we stand, America, let me be the one to say it. I’ll say it, if it will allay your fears and put some of these issues to rest:

I will row through shit for you, America.

And I will do it gladly, and proudly, because rowing on this team in Rio is not something I’m afraid of, or going to complain about. I will do it, and I will defend fiercely the dignity of the people who are doing their best to make everyone happy while we are all guests in their beautiful country.

While I disagree with Kalmoe’s overall reasoning here (it’s clear she has no idea how journalism works), it’s hard to deny that “I will row through shit for you, America” is not the greatest sports quote of the year so far.

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