Indie Sport
Just when the world was ready to count her out, Sally Robbins dug somewhere deep and said, "Fuggedaboutit." As reported in yesterday's Indie Sport post (National Trust) Robbins, the ostracized Australian oarswoman who abruptly stopped rowing during the eight-oared medals race at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is attempting a controversial comeback at her nation's Olympic trials this week in Sydney.

Already some of the competitors vying for seats in Australia's quad and double sculls have threatened to boycott if placed in a boat with Robbins. (Note for the uninitiated: sculling events involve boats in which each oarswoman rows with two oars, as opposed to sweep events, such as the eight, in which boats are comprised of crews divided into starboard and port oarswomen, each of whom rows with a single, larger oar.)

Over the first three days of trials competition Robbins reinforced the boycott sentiment, finishing last, second to last, and last again in her races. In the devastating third race of the trilogy she and her partner, Lisa Szatsznadjer, finished twenty seconds behind the winners and fourteen seconds behind a lightweight pair.

But Robbins, whose personal motto is "never surrender the dream," proved today, in her very next race, that rumors of her demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Partnered with Zoe Uphill, whose apropos surname had to have come from central casting, Robbins finished second, ahead of Szatsnadjer and her partner, Catriona Sens, the woman who slapped Robbins at a 2004 team function and received a two year suspension for her actions.

With her performance today, Robbins rescusitated her flickering hopes and likely ensured she will continue racing in the trials for the remainder of the regatta. However, many Australians and rowing aficionados remain skeptical, including the uniformly unimpressed bloggers writing in the Western Australian. To wit:

Why should she ever row for Australia again? She gave up and lay down last time letting her teammates and her country down why would you take the risk and give her the chance to do it again?

Her form at the trials suggests that yet again she is buckling under the pressure, is this someone you would trust if you were hoping to gain medals?

As an ex rower and a fan of the sport I felt for the rest of her team when she gave up even though i'm not an Australian. I can't blame those rowers who say they won't row with her if she gets given a place on the team, I know I wouldn't even if it meant giving up rowing in an olympics.


As we await the next act in this drama, we are left to contemplate the agonizing possibility that if Sally Robbins continues to surge and somehow manages to pull a rabbit out of her hat, some will choose to relinquish their Olympic dreams because she couldn't imagine relinquishing hers.


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