Tokyo 2020: The power of power

Published on February 27th, 2020

The USA selection system for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is points based, with the results position from selected events added together to form a cumulative score. Low score earns the bid, and in the Women’s Two Person Dinghy event, three teams have a chance to win it.

With the 470 boat as the selected equipment, and no team continuing from the previous Olympic quad, it has been a race to advance up the learning curve, with the results from the 2019 and 2020 World Championships, along with the World Cup Series Miami, to determine the outcome.

Only the final event on March 13-21 remains, and Atlantic and Nora Brugman are 1 point up on Carmen and Emma Cowles and 3 points ahead of Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weiss. Nearly even… anything could happen.

It’s always a grind for new teams, as national funding is limited until performance warrants investment, so the sacrifice needed is extraordinary. Finding the motivation shapes character, a fact shared here in commentary by Dallman-Weiss:


Power. I’ve found my current anchor word! I’m not sure I would have chosen it, but for some reason it’s the one that I keep coming back to when my mind wanders in the gym or on the water. I say it and I immediately snap to a confident and present state.

We recently raced in a Worlds warm-up regatta, and I was given advice from a good friend, also campaigning, to focus hard on our specific goals each day. By doing this, she counseled, let success be determined by whether we accomplished them or not versus results.

Dallman-Weiss, Barnes, Bisi

One of our goals was to focus on starts; it’s easy for us to spend too much time testing speed in between races, but this regatta had a really long starting line and the sea state was constantly changing so it was important to test acceleration times and get synchronized in the boat. The last day of racing we found our flow; it was incredible and addicting. I can’t wait to find this state again.

My mom recently shared a podcast called The Happiness Lab with Charles Duhigg. It hit home with everything I’m currently feeling and experiencing.

The truth is that Nikki and I have spent two years dedicated together to the same goal. We eat sleep and breathe the Olympic dream. And for the past year our coach Robby Bisi has completely left his life to join our pursuit. At this point the time to fight our final qualification battle is almost here and more than ever it is up to us to be in the best possible state of mind.

Here are a few pieces from the podcast that rang true:

• Will we make use of pressure or let it take us down? Because we do have the option.
• “Perfect is a dirty word.” It is impossible to live the perfect life and thus setting us up for failure, instead find something different like, “I’m striving for excellence”… whatever sounds best to you.
• Ignore all things we can’t control. Really work hard to let them come in and go right out. Some examples are weather delays, the things people say or email us, a late container, or a poor night’s sleep.
• “Attachment to results is the root for all suffering.” – Buddha
• How do we gain control? We let go of controlling everything! Find the freedom, embrace the energy, and ride the wave! Our team has learned that especially as Americans, we like the idea of having control of situations, and over planning. It’s something we have been letting go of.
• This dream is too important to take too seriously, so don’t make it bigger than life.
• The week before a regatta (or anything big like a job interview or audition) will be an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s important to laugh because the mood otherwise tends to turn negative!
• Things speed up on race day, so take things slow… eat, brush teeth, rig the boat, walk etc. This will help with awareness and staying present.
• “Walk your walk.” For me this means no comparisons to other teams, boats, athletes, or even my own teammates. I know what works for me. Especially in a world of social media, television, and ample resources, I am responsible for my own happiness! I personally manage my emotions with music. I also operate from a place of gratitude (a short mediation with breath work or sitting in nature) and endorphins are my rock: running, biking, or lifting.

The fire is living in me right now, it’s beyond exciting to have a clear-cut goal and purpose, especially one that’s shared, so I’m doing everything I can to stay fully present!

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