Olympics: Proud, disappointed and exhausted

Dean Brenner Team Leader US Olympic Sailing Team, Qingdao, Beijing 2008
The racing for Team USA is done. We ended yesterday, and are now in China for another couple of days. We'll walk in the Closing Ceremony and then head on home. I'm sure I speak for everyone on the team when I say we're equal parts proud of what we did accomplish, disappointed by what we did not accomplish, and exhausted from the entire experience.

I'll raise the curtain again for a few moments and share with you some thoughts on what is going inside my head right now.

Keep in mind that I wear very different hats for US Olympic Sailing right now. On one hand, I am Chairman and have been for four years. The Chairman's job is about strategy and program management. It's big picture. It's long term. The Team Leader's job is about tactics in the moment and regatta performace at the Games. It's 'in the moment.' It's short term.

These jobs are very different and I have had to consciously remind myself throughout these Games that I am not here as the Chairman and I am here as the Team Leader. My job these last few months has been to help these athletes here and now, not worry about any long-term plans or implications.

But now that the Games are wrapping up, I'm starting to take my Team Leader hat off and put my Chairman's hat back on. And I'm asking myself, 'how did we do?' That's an important question that we will discuss and debate for a while. And others will as well. Some will debate it with the good intentions of helping our program continue to improve. Others will debate it with other intentions. Enough said. But regardless, it is a conversation that needs to happen.

I am proud of this team and of our performance. We won two medals. We could have won more, but we didn't, and there are a lot of teams going home right now with fewer than two medals. We won a gold and a silver from two first-time Olympians, both of whom appear to be sticking around for another go. That's a real positive. We can build off those two performances. And we can enter the next four-year Olympic cycle with strength in those two events.

We also enter the next Olympic cycle with lots more young talent that may sign up for another go. I think there are more than a few 2008 Olympians who will feel the tug of 'unifinshed business.' That's also a huge positive.

But make no mistake about it... we have work left to do. I leave these Games proud, but not satisfied. That's an important distinction. Everyone on this team worked hard, we gave them more support than any US athletes have ever received before, and they represented us with grace and class. Those things are all important. I am deeply proud of this team. But at the same time, I am not satisfied.

There are other teams still ahead of us in a few ways. And I am not happy about that. I respect their programs and their success, but I also want to put us back on top of the pile. We'll do the full debrief with our leadership team over the next few weeks, and continue to lay out our plan for 2012. We have lots to talk about.

I have always known how close and intense the competition is at this level. I've been part of our Olympic Program for a long time, but until you see it and hear it in person, it's hard to explain how close the racing can be. Regatta results and medals literally turn on one bad jibe or one bad start. It's pretty intense.

I'm still working my way through all this stuff. It will take some time, but we'll come back stronger and better in 2012. I firmly believe that.

That's all for now. I'll submit one more post after the Closing Ceremony in a couple of days.

Until then, sail fast, cheer hard and be proud of your 2008 Olympic Sailing Team.