At least two of the women competing in these Olympic trials have threatened to boycott the team if Robbins is selected for one of the Beijing-bound crews. Sens has been widely speculated to be one of them and today marked the first time she and Robbins had been in the same boat, literally and figuratively, since Athens.
By all accounts the dynamic today between the two was cold and uncomfortable. They barely spoke and when Robbins, who was stroking the boat, looked over her shoulder to communicate, Sens turned her head away.
The result, as one might imagine, was predictable-- a dismal last place finish in a three-boat race, won by the star of the regatta, Kerry Hore, and her partner of the day, Lisa Szatsznadjer. Hore was undefeated in the double sculls throughout the gruelling regatta. Regardless of who she was partnered with, the outcome was the same: victory.
Sens, on the other hand, may not have to worry about exercising her boycott option, inasmuch as she may have rowed herself out of the Olympic mix with her last four finishes: third, third, second, and third. Robbins is on the bubble, according to Rowing Australia high performance director Noel Donaldson. Asked about her chances for being selected to continue on to the final set of Olympic trials in April, he said, "Lets' say 50-50. We can analyse the numbers in terms of performance. She certainly won't be last."
Complicating the matter will be the addition of two catalysts to the April competition, Amber Bradley, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the quad scull, and Sonia Mills, a silver medalist in the 2006 world championships. But before any further racing commences, Donaldson will hold two additional group therapy sessions with his squad to air out and, he hopes, resolve any lingering issues between them and Sally Robbins.
Donaldson appears to have bent over backward to give both Robbins and Sens a full opportunity to redeem themselves. It remains to be seen whether their flickering Olympic dreams are destined to burn brightly or go down in symbiotic flames.