Dartmouth rower clinches Olympic berth

  • Dartmouth graduate Molly Reckford, left, and rowing partner Michelle Sechser are headed to the Tokyo Olympics. Courtesy photograph

Published: 5/18/2021 12:50:18 PM
Modified: 5/18/2021 12:50:16 PM

HANOVER — Former Dartmouth College rower Molly Reckford has joined a growing list of Big Green athletes with plans to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Reckford, a 2015 graduate, teamed with Michelle Sechser to claim spots on the U.S. women’s rowing team at the 2021 World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, over the weekend. The duo won all three of their races, needing a top-three finish in order to secure a trip to Japan.

Reckford and Sechser won their heat race in the women’s lightweight doubles on Saturday with a time of 7 minutes, 4.03 seconds, beating Poland by four seconds. They advanced to the final early Sunday in 7:19.02, beating Ireland by about two seconds, and they clinched their Olympic berth with a 7:06.62 in the final, edging the Swiss by less than a second.

The final had been slated for Monday but was bumped to late Sunday to avoid predicted inclement weather.

“This was the most pivotal 25 hours of my life so far,” Reckford said in a news release. “Each race, we went into the starting blocks trying to focus only on the race ahead of us, rowing the best race we could one stroke at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. We have seen other athletes move too soon or go too hard and blow out because they were thinking of the gravity of the situation, so I really focused on reminding myself that it was just another race.

“Now that it has sunk in, I am so ecstatic that I get to keep racing with Michelle and trying to make it to the highest level possible in sport. I feel very blessed to be in this situation knowing we earned it.”

Reckford’s success gives Dartmouth at least two athletes on the U.S. Olympic team for Japan, the other being veteran rugby sevens player Madison Hughes. Four men’s rowers — Jacob Hudgins, Oliver Bub, Robert Moffitt and Spencer Furey — are in position to qualify as well.

The Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin on July 23 and conclude on Aug. 8.

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