Riverton native and Olympian Brett Newlin shares experience and wisdom

#snapshots, brought to you by Rendezvous Dental, is a series highlighting amazing athletic and competitive achievements from across County 10.
(Riverton, Wyo.) - It's been eight years since Riverton native Brett Newlin rowed for team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and four years since the 2012 London Olympics. Though he's officially retired from the sport and his priorities have shifted from athlete to family man, Brett is still very passionate about rowing. He'll be cheering for some of his former teammates competing in Rio this week.
Pitchengine Communities had the honor of chatting with Brett as he reflected on his Olympic experiences and what it meant to represent the United States and Wyoming at the most elite level.
"It felt like I was living out a dream that I didn't even know I could dream of until halfway through college, since I had only picked up the sport as a freshman," Brett said. He competed in Beijing at the age of 26. "Going through processing and getting fitted for all of the official Olympic gear felt like slipping into a superhero uniform, and only partly because Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped by to wish us luck. We were no longer just US Rowing, but a part of Team USA as a whole."
Copy of 610x3.jpg
In Beijing, Brett was part of a talented crew on the USA's coxless four (M4-) team which included himself, Giuseppe Lanzone, Paul Teti and David Banks. "I remember sitting at the start line, in the silence right before the buzzer went off, imagining myself glued to the TV screen like I had been for Olympics past and thinking, 'Man, you're doing it, dude,'" Brett described. The team advanced to the semi-final where they finished a 1/2 second behind third place and had to go to the B final. They watched later as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in their semi-final went on to win gold, silver, and bronze in the final. "So close. I had to try again," he said.
Four years and thousands of practice hours later, at 30 years old, Brett proved he could sit in a boat in London, this time sitting stroke seat in the eight-man boat (M8+). He had two of his Beijing teammates, Giuse and Dave, with him in the boat as well. "It was still sweet, but different," Brett said. "I knew this would be my last regatta. I had more of a leadership role and felt I had more to prove."
The team went through the Final Qualification Regatta (aka 'Regatta of Death') where they had to win outright in order to earn their spot in London. They won the first race in the heats and advanced straight to the A final. He'd already come further than he had in Beijing.
Copy of M8+2012-1.JPG
The next race would be for medals. "After a slow start in the final, we clawed our way back into contention, and finally blindly threw everything we had in the final strokes," he said. "I looked up at the board and saw '4th: USA' appear on the screen." They had missed a bronze medal by 0.3 seconds in the tightest eight race anyone can remember. "It stung. Bad. The closing ceremony was bitter tinged with a little sweetness. Bitter because I had toiled so hard for so long and just missed out on winning an Olympic medal. Sweet because even knowing that I would have done it all over again."
Aside from the rowing, Brett reflected on some of the other highlights of his Olympic experience. He traipsed the Great Wall of China and visited the Forbidden City where a dozen or so locals stood in line to get a photo with him and his girlfriend (now wife). He reflected on the camaraderie of London: "I remember wandering back to the Olympic Village cafeteria as the sun was coming up to partake in the free McDonalds there alongside other happy but tired athletes...Oh, and the Spice Girls performed at the closing ceremony."
Copy of Olympics 048.jpg
"Tell someone you're from Wyoming you'll get one of two answers: 1)"I drove through there once" or 2) "Where's that?"' Brett said. "I had such a deep appreciation for my city and state, a state almost no one else I met was familiar with. I wore it like a badge of pride. When someone asked me "What's it like there?" I just said, "Stick around. I'll show you." Respect and friendships followed, plus the drive to do something crazy like devote a solid eight years of my life to chase down a little glory."
We asked Brett what he'd tell all the young athletes across Wyoming, and he offered very inspiring words of wisdom: "Don't aspire to be an Olympian. Aspire to try new things. Aspire to change and improve yourself. Aspire to do whatever you are doing to the best of your ability. Aspire to never stop aspiring. You do all that, you're going to find that you have a great talent for something. Put those aspirations to work and you're going to find success. And if it so happens that the talent you find is a major attribute in one of those sports listed on the Olympic roster, do yourself a favor and go for it."
Copy of ba-oly-2008-clos_0499027660.jpg
Brett Newlin at the Beijing Olympics 2008
Brett now lives in Holland, Pennsylvania, just northeast of Philadelphia with his wife Ashleigh, and two boys, Jack (2) and Emmett (11 months). He works for Mistras Group as a software system engineer. "Life is good," Brett said. "I do miss Wyoming though." He usually makes it back here about once a year for some good R&R with family and friends.
Copy of 610x1.jpg
USA's coxless four (M4-) team rowing in Beijing 2008
USA's coxless four (M4-) team rowing in Beijing 2008. Brett Newlin front.
Copy of newlin2.JPG
Brett Newlin and team rowing on Team USA's eight-man boat (M8+) in London Olympics 2012.
Copy of M8+2012 (1).jpg
Brett Newlin and team rowing on Team USA's eight-man boat (M8+) in London Olympics 2012.
Feature photo: Riverton native, Brett Newlin, in the 2012 London Olympics
#county10 #news #reboot #buckrail #shortgo #dally #oilcity #county17 #springcity