Still despite the corruption and politics that he feels have marred the Olympics as an institution, Springer looks back on his days as an elite athlete with a mixture of longing and contentment. He sees his silver medal as a result of his crew showing up and doing their job. “Going into the [Olympic] final we knew the British had beaten us once, and we were confident we could beat everyone else,” he recalls. “We rowed right at the level of our crew, it’s not necessarily laudable, and it’s not negative, it just is” He adds: “had we won gold, I would of been ecstatic because we would have exceeded our performance, if we’d gotten a bronze I would have been extremely disappointed. As it was, we showed up and did our job.”
This sort of stoic pragmatism is the way Springer looks at his entire athletic career. “I didn’t compete against other people or other countries I competed against myself,” he says. “It was an avenue that allowed me to push my own boundaries. Sometimes the gauge of my performance was the result of my competition.
Nevertheless, he says, he never measured himself as an athlete by his wins and losses. “There were times when I was blown away on the water where I was ecstatic with my performance, and times where I won and was very disappointed with my race. It’s not the competition and it’s not the politics, being in a situation where the sum focus of your attention is on yourself as an athlete,” says Springer, “for me that is what it’s all about.”
Springer sees being an Olympican as something almost anyone has the potential to be able to do. “The one thing anyone who is world class has is the ability to focus, not necessarily extraordinary talent,” he says. “It’s not that some people can and most can’t. It’s that some will and most won’t”