Madison senior Georgia Ratcliff was in Plovdiv, Bulgaria earlier this month rowing for the United States at the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championships, where the 2012 All-Met won a bronze medal as part of her four-person boat. Ratcliff, who won a bronze medal at same event a year ago, was joined this year by her sister Carolina, a rising junior who rowed in the women’s eight for the United States. Here’s a recap of Georgia’s experience, as told to The Post’s Louis Nelson:
“I was excited, nervous, anxious, feeling ready, feeling unprepared (yes, at the same time), all while trying to remain relaxed. . . . The truth is, for the girls in my boat the week was a culmination of all the hard work we have put in over the past year. With every drop of sweat there was a vision of a gold medal and it was terrifying that this week we either claim it or lose it. . . .
“[My sister Carolina and I] were in different boats, so we weren’t around each other too much, but it was nice to have her there to have my back when practice was tough physically or emotionally. I did get to see her final because we had finished our final the day before.” . . .
“The racing was awesome. Our boat got more and more confident as we went. I would say we were the most nervous before the first race because we didn’t know where we stood in the pack. As we went through to semis and won ours we knew we had it in us to medal and hopefully go for gold. That’s when it became fun.
“When you sit at the line before the race, you feel excited because you know you are representing thousands of rowers back home, and you have nothing to lose so you and your boat mates just go for it on every stroke. We also got progressively better throughout the week as we realized we would have to find a way to compete with China who finished with a time about 11 seconds faster in our heats.
“China only comes about once ever four years, and as you could expect when they come they are incredibly fast. This happened to be the year they came. The other countries, which we knew to look out for, were as fast as we expected so we were able to account for [their speed] and beat them throughout the regatta. China, [which was a bit of a wildcard coming in], was just out of our grasp throughout the week and eventually took the gold by three seconds over us.
“I remember sitting before the line thinking about how we just won the medal count at the Olympics and that everyone was waiting to see that excellence continue here in our race… My favorite part of the whole race was coming to the 250 meters left and you can hear the chant “U-S-A.” and it just grows until you cross the line and collapse. I don’t know how I would get across the line with out it. The best part about rowing internationally is that even if they were cheering against me, I wouldn’t know because they aren’t speaking English.
“The spectators are awesome and those from the area just love watching and being around the racing. They treated us like royalty and celebrities. I got stopped about six times to take pictures with some of the locals, and I was bought treats twice while walking around after the awards ceremony.” . . .
“There is an Olympic style ceremony where they raise the flags and play the anthem. Watching the flag raise is beautiful and you don’t want to take your eye off the flag for fear that the moment will end.”