Rower Brad Alan Lewis was determined to make it to the 1984 Olympics. Having missed the chance to compete in 1980 due to the United States' boycott of the Olympics and knowing that he would probably be too old to compete in the 1988 games, Lewis's vision became singular: to compete in the double sculls at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Lewis chronicles his efforts and ultimate success in Assault on Lake Casitas (1990).
Lewis failed to make the national rowing team several times, once by as little as nine-tenths of a second. Lewis partnered with Paul Enquist, a commercial fisherman by trade who had also been cut from the team. The pair used somewhat unconventional training methods which paid off. The pair defeated the national team double scull entry at the Olympic trials, demonstrating that despite not being selected by the national team coaches, they were still a powerful team capable of victory.
Ultimately, Lewis and his double scull partner, Paul Enquist, came from last place to win the gold medal by just under two seconds. They won the United States first gold medal in rowing since 1964 and the country's first gold in the double sculls event since 1932.
Lewis relates the thoughts he had over the course of the 2000 meter race. It is not until the last 500 meters of the race that he and Enquist moved into second and first place. In the last ten strokes of the race, Lewis thinks to himself, "We are poised on the edge of perfection. Yes, we'll take the risk, the big gamble. We commit wholly to the test. We can do it." Winning the gold, Lewis reflects, meant that he was "free" and that "the puzzle is complete."
Brad Alan Lewis is also the author of Confessions of a Grinder and Wanted: Rowing Coach.