A light rain was falling, so two-time Olympic kayaker Scott Parsons tugged on a vinyl jersey before hauling his kayak down a steep hill that runs next to his rental apartment in Bethesda. He crossed the Clara Barton Parkway in his bare feet, walked gingerly down a gravel path, then slid his kayak into the Feeder Canal on the Potomac River to train. ¶ Seven years after his first retirement, and three years after his second, Parsons is back in his boat, driven once again by the nagging sense that he never got to finish his career properly. He finished sixth in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. He missed the final at the Beijing Games in 2008 after a crushing late penalty pushed him from third place to elimination. ¶ He looks to the 2012 Summer Games in London for an Olympic medal, and closure. He hopes, most of all, to find the validation and satisfaction missing on previous Olympic trips.
“I didn’t exactly know why I had to try again,” Parsons, 32, said. “There’s a big difference between quitting and retiring, and I didn’t want to quit. . . . I think my potential now is greater than it was five years ago.”