There’s a quiet fierceness to Kristine O’Brien – the water is still, but her heart races.
“You’re basically in a full out sprint from the beginning of the race, so it’s intense but it’s really awesome when you’re in a rhythm with seven other women and there’s nothing like it,” O’Brien said of her rowing event the Women’s 8.
Her aim in the boat – go fast, but when she walks out as part of Team U.S.A. at the Tokyo Olympics, she’ll want to slow down and live in that moment as long as she can.
“Being named to the Olympic team was like the dream come true, I’ve trained a long time for this and it’s finally happening,” O’Brien said.
Growing up in Massapequa Park, Long Island, Kristine learned to row at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, since then her rowing career has had setbacks and successes – gold medals, championship titles, serious injuries and being cut from the 2016 Rio Olympics team. But through it all her Catholic faith has empowered her to stay the course.
“I came to the realization that I had more in the tank and I had faith through all of that and thank God for everything, without my faith I wouldn’t have gotten to this point,” she said.
Now she’ll be competing in the Women’s 8 with the best in the world in her first Olympic run. But long before she ever stepped foot in a boat, Kristine was part of a different team.
“My mom worked five plus jobs to provide for us and to give us a good life so while she worked my grandma took care of us and it was kind of a team effort,” said Kristine.
She and her twin sister came to the United States at two-years-old from Ireland. She doesn’t have an accent, but what she does have is a strong sense of family and faith thanks to her Irish roots and her grandmother, Nancy, who stays close to her heart.
“She would just be so proud, I pray to my grandma a lot because I know she’ll take care of me and is watching over me,” Kristine said.
Right before Kristine steps into the boat in Tokyo she’ll do what she always does – say a Hail Mary. She’s worked tirelessly toward her goals, but the rest is in God’s hands.