Taylor Ritzel felt her mother's spirit with her as she rowed for gold Thursday.
Ritzel, a 2010 graduate of Yale University, was a part of the women's eight crew who won an Olympic gold medal at Dorney Lake, outside London. The U.S. led wire to wire, finishing just ahead of Canada, who took silver, and the Netherlands.
Ritzel's mother, Lana Ritzel, died of breast cancer in November 2010. It was Lana who encouraged Taylor to take up rowing when Taylor entered Yale as a freshman. By the time Taylor graduated from Yale, cancer had stripped her mother of the ability to speak. Still, she found the strength to whisper,"I want to see you at the Olympics."
Ritzel said her father cried Thursday watching her win gold. She said she could feel her mother's presence from the moment she walked into the rowing facility Thursday morning.
Taylor's sister and about 15 friends and former Yale teammates were at Dorney Lake to show their support as well.