Local rower wins gold in Rio Olympics

Kerry Simmonds celebrates her Olympic rowing gold medal with family in Rio. From left to right: Brian, Karyn, Kerry, Eric, Kyra and Steve Simmonds.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, Carmel Valley’s Kerry Simmonds became an Olympic champion in Rio.

Simmonds, the Torrey Pines High School alum, was a part of the dominant gold-medal winning women’s eight rowing team and the extension of a 10-year winning streak.

The women’s boat was in the bronze medal position in the halfway mark of the 2,000-meter course in Rio’s scenic Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in the tough race on Saturday. With a rallying cry from coxswain Katelin Snyder, the U.S. women powered to the finish line with an impressive push — coming from behind to grab gold in 6:01.49.

“Crossing the finish line, I remember just an overwhelming amount of emotion. Pure joy and relief all came to the surface. I am pretty certain I yelled or shrieked. I was so very happy,” Simmonds said. “And to be able to share that moment with the eight other women in the boat was incredible. Lots of tears were shed.”

The gold was a perfect cap for Simmonds’ tough, “rollercoaster” year of training in Princeton this year, overcoming injury, as well as mental and physical stress. She has been chasing her Olympic dream at the training center in New Jersey since graduating from the University of Washington in 2011.

Simmonds will continue to enjoy her team’s victory, staying in Rio for the Olympics’ closing ceremony on Aug. 21.