Q&A with Olympic Gold Medalist Esther Lofgren
I should have known Esther Lofgren was a big deal — or at least a hardcore athlete — when I saw her eating a giant footlong sandwich at a FireHook Coffee House in Alexandria a few weeks ago. I should have noticed her American flag manicure and, at six-foot-two, her rower-like athletic build. But it wasn’t until she struck up a conversation with the owner that I overheard the news, “Wait, you competed in the Olympics? And won gold?” Everyone’s ears perked up. Soon she had the actual gold medal out of her purse (she keeps it in a beanie) and us few fortunate coffee shoppers were snapping photos with her. The medal was heavier than I thought it would be; not the sort of thing I’d want to sink my teeth into, as is the trend.
I recognized Esther as one of the beaming and beautiful women from the gold-winning women’s eight rowing team. Remember when they threw their short coxswain into the water? Many of them cried during the medal ceremony — and the sense of teamwork was almost tangible through my TV screen. What a pleasure to meet one of these gals in person!
Esther and I exchanged information and she agreed to this Q&A for my blog. As you’ll see below, she recently relocated to Alexandria to be closer to her boyfriend, who is also an Olympian in another sport. She is training here and experimenting with various crosstraining options in the area (she is coming to technical boxing with me at LA Boxing tomorrow!) Enjoy this little window into the life of an Olympic Gold Medalist, who continues to train for the next Olympics!
1. What brings you to the Alexandria/DC area?
“I’m here in DC to finally get to spend some time with my boyfriend of a couple of years! I’m living in Old Town Alexandria right now, but looking to move up to Arlington in the next month or two.”
2. Where do you plan to workout? What cross-training options have you discovered here so far?
“I’ve been working out a little bit of everywhere. I’m rowing at Potomac Boat Club up in Georgetown. I just started CrossFit at CrossFit Old Town. I love running and biking on the Path (trying to earn the “Pathlete” title!) And I’ve stopped by the Alexandria YMCA for erging and lifting.”
3. Has anyone in DC walked up to you and recognized you as part of the gold-winning eight? I would be dying to tell everyone about my medal… how do you work it into conversations?
“Actually, my boyfriend and I were up in Annapolis and one of the Midshipmen came sprinting down the street after us. Since my boyfriend Kyle used to coach and be a company commander at the Naval Academy, I assumed it was one of his former students. Turns out I’d been recognized by a slightly obsessed Navy rower!I still haven’t unpacked everything since leaving Princeton, NJ (where our team is based) before London, so I wear Team USA gear pretty much daily. People often start conversations by asking me if I was on the team or know someone who was, and then we go from there! I tried to stave off that conversation for as long as I could my first day at CrossFit… I certainly didn’t go to the Olympics for that, and there are definitely people in there who now try to beat me just because they know that about me. But it’s as good a reason as any to push myself above and beyond — I’ll take it!”
4. Which DC monuments and must-sees have you checked out so far?
“Well, the USA Paralympic and Olympic teams were invited to the White House last month, and that was a pretty cool one to check off the list! (Meeting President Obama, Joe Biden and Michelle Obama was pretty awesome as well!) Last year, I also had the opportunity to see the USMC Silent Drill Team’s Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial — those guys are amazing! I visited DC as an 8-year-old and saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Mt. Vernon, etc., but I’d say one of my must-sees was this spring, when my boyfriend picked me up at 5:30 a.m. from a redeye flight and drove me to the park right by the monuments. We stood under the cherry blossoms and watched the sun rise over the barely rippling water and the looming, white monuments. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!”
5. What restaurants have you tried so far? Any big winners?
“In Alexandria, I’m a big fan of Society Fair — BBQ! Smoked meat! Amazing desserts! — and BGR (a good burger and shake — nuff said!) The Columbia Firehouse has the best onion rings I’ve ever had, and a fantastic cocktail menu. I’m loving being in a “foodie” city — there haven’t been any disappointments yet anywhere!”
6. What sort of post-Olympic events and commitments have you had recently? Been on any morning news shows or cereal boxes?
“Most everyone from our team this summer is doing the rounds — attending regattas, doing media, and doing other events. I’ve really been enjoying doing public speaking at schools, companies, hospitals and rowing programs. It’s awesome how many people love and are inspired by the Olympics, and the greatest thing about winning this medal is being able to give back and pay it forward. I can’t even count how many people inspired me and supported me on my journey, and I hope to be able to do the same to future Olympic hopefuls, and to people who want to follow their dreams!”
7. Is it hard to go back to “normal life” post Olympics? What helps you move on and focus on the next competition or Olympics?
“The biggest difference is that I don’t have one giant goal dictating everything I do. Instead, I have lots of little ones, so it’s taking some getting used to — it’s much trickier to balance 100 things instead of always just choosing one! I’m really enjoying spending time with my family, friends, and boyfriend, and using this time to figure out whether I want to row for another year, another four years, or move on to the next chapter. I’m keeping the door open on all of those and looking at where I’d like to be long-term. Lots to figure out, for sure!”
To learn more about Esther, or to hire her for a speaking engagement, visit her website at http://www.estherlofgren.com/. And follow her on Twitter! Thank you for your time Esther!