Rachelle Viingberg has become Saskatchewan’s first Olympic medalist in the London Games after she claimed silver in women’s eight rowing on Aug. 2.
It was Viinberg’s third Olympics after competing in the Beijing and Athens Games. Striking silver in London marked her first appearance on the Olympic podium.
“It’s pretty surreal. I’ve been to three Olympics now, and my dreams have finally come to fruition. I don’t think it has totally sunk in yet,” said Viinberg via email from London.
Surrounded by roughly 30,000 spectators, what was the first thing Viinberg did with her precious medal?
“I put it on my mom for a picture,” she said.
Not only did Viinberg battle for four hard years to make it to the Olympics, but so did her mother, June Mayhew de Jong, who beat cancer to make it to London.
“She battled stage three colon cancer so she could be in the stands watch me perform my dream. We both achieved our goals,” Viinberg added.
The Canadians finished second to the defending champions, the Americans, with the Netherlands clinching bronze. Despite missing gold by just over a second, Viinberg wasn’t fazed.
“They are an extraordinary crew, and I tip my hat to an amazing performance by them. I’m so proud of how we did. We were up against a [U.S.] program that throws a lot of money into rowing development, and we gave it our all. There are no regrets, and I’m so happy with how we executed our race plan.”