A rowing version of All About Eve, the classic movie in which a veteran actress' stardom is challenged by a young upstart, took place Tuesday on Elk Lake.
The veteran won.
"There was a lot at stake - the chance to represent Canada in the Olympics - and I had butterflies going to the line," said 37-year-old Tracy Cameron, who won the dramatic row-off against 20-year-old Patricia Obee of Victoria to clinch the second seat in the Canadian women's lightweight double for the 2012 London Summer Games.
Lindsay Jennerich of Victoria was pre-selected for the first seat in the boat, which is one of Canada's big hopes for gold at London in any sport. But coaches were in a quandary about how to select Jennerich's Olympic boat-mate. Jennerich and Cameron won gold at the 2010 world championships. With Cameron injured and out with a rib fracture, Jennerich and the emerging Obee won silver at the 2011 worlds.
Tuesday's row-off was the method used to decide between Cameron and Obee for London. The double is the lone Olympic women's lightweight event.
"It's hard to talk right now," said an emotional Jennerich, fighting back tears following the tense row-off.
The Claremont Secondary grad's place at London is guaranteed but the events of the morning seemed to drain the colour out of her as she watched the make-or-break race between her two close friends unfold from the shore.
"I know both of them so well and I'm really emotional for both of them because it is such a happy result for one and such a sad result for the other," said Jennerich.
"This was really a race under pressure. This was a very intense situation."
But one that should serve Jennerich and Cameron well at London.
"When you are in the Olympic final, you want to know you have somebody with you who can rise to the occasion," said Jennerich.
There is little doubt Obee could have as well. But the Stelly's Secondary graduate will have to wait until Rio 2016 to get that chance.
"Patricia Obee is only 20 and already a world-class athlete and she has three Olympics in her," predicted Cameron. "I know she will be at many Olympics in the future and I'll be rooting for her."
But for London, the seasoned veteran was leaving nothing to chance and took it out early against Obee in building a significant lead over the younger rower who is known for her strong closing kick.
"I took it out hard right from the start and wanted to build a bubble between myself and Patricia," said Cameron, a native of Nova Scotia, who has lived and trained the past five years in Victoria.
"And once I built that lead, I didn't want to sit on it because I know what kind of closing sprinter [Obee] is and I didn't want to give her an opening for a final push. So I kept working for more breathing room."
Now that the Jennerich Cameron combination is settled for London, comes the scrutiny of being a gold-medal favourite boat.
"I don't even think about that," said Cameron, who won bronze in this lightweight double event with Melanie Kok at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"All those kilometres I have put in on this lake is what matters as I work with Lindsay [Jennerich] to prepare for London."
Of those kilometres on Elk, the two Cameron rowed Monday may have been the most important of all.
Further row-offs are set today and Thursday to decide the final Olympic seats for the men's double and four.
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