There's a story for every Olympian, but few are more compelling than that of Dominic Seiterle '98, who won a gold medal rowing for Canada in the men's eight at the Beijing Summer Games.
Dominic Seiterle '98 (Photo by Andrew Byrnes)
A Montreal native who majored in psychology at Dartmouth, Seiterle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer the August before his senior year. Surgery and radioactive iodine treatment enabled him to beat the disease-and to captain the Dartmouth heavyweights in the spring of 1998. (Last year, he got his 10-year clean bill of health.) He went on to row for Canada in a double scull at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, only to put the oars down from rowing internationally after the boat finished thirteenth.
In 2001, Canada's new national team coach, who would lead the eight to gold in China, wanted more of a commitment than Seiterle felt he could give at that time.
"Rowing should be full time according to him, and I think according to me as well," he says. "I was struggling financially, and there was no way I could do it. I also wanted to build off my Dartmouth degree."
He spent a year teaching, and then trained on his own in 2002 while starting an M.B.A. program at the University of Rochester. After a year of school he took a hiatus to give the dream of an Olympic medal another shot.
Seiterle made Canada's pair team for the World Cup season and was about to be "trialed" for the eight when he caught another bad break. A potentially deadly blood infection hospitalized him for two weeks and put him on an IV for three more, ending his chances of going to Athens for the 2004 Games. But he still didn't give up the dream.
After earning his degree at Rochester, where he raised money for the fight against cancer by rowing 80 miles across Lake Ontario, he attended several national team camps in British Columbia. In spring 2007, he was asked to row in the Canadian eight, racing it to an undefeated season and heading to Beijing as the heavy favorite.
Undeterred by a weather delay, its bow ball being knocked off at the start gate, and the Australian boat veering into its lane, Seiterle's boat won its preliminary race in Beijing handily. In the gold-medal race it built a big early lead and outlasted crews from Great Britain and the United States.
Seiterle, who returned to work full time in communications with the provincial government of British Columbia in September, plans to let friends and family keep the hard-earned gold medal for a time.
"Because all these people put up with me," he says. "I want to say they supported me but I think they'd probably agree with the expression, 'put up with me,' for the last four years, or eight years for many of them."
And he'll be happy to bring it along to show to future Olympic hopefuls the next time he visits Dartmouth. "It's always great going through airport security and saying, 'Oh it must be this thing in my pocket,' " he laughs.
By BRUCE WOOD
Two other Dartmouth alumni and one current student competed in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing in August. Their results:
• Jarrod Shoemaker ’04 finished 18th in the men’s triathlon at Beijing, his first Olympics. Shoemaker, who ran cross country as an undergraduate at the College, finished the 1.5 kilometer swim, 40 kilometer bicycle ride, and 10 kilometer run in 1:50:40.22. He shared his thoughts after the Games with the website Xtri.com; read his comments.
• Craig Henderson ’09 was a member of the New Zealand soccer team that failed to advance beyond the qualifying round. After an opening round 1-1 tie with China, the Kiwis lost to Brazil 5-0 and Belgium 1-0. Henderson blogged from Beijing; read his reports.
• Two-time Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson ’97 was one of the favorites in the shot put heading into Beijing, but a muscle pull hampered his throwing. Nelson fouled on his first three throws and bowed out of the competition. National Public Radio followed Nelson through his training leading up to the Olympics, and had a final interview with him after the competition. Listen to the interview.
By RICK ADAMS
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Last Updated: 10/7/08