Former Olympic sailor Carol Cronin has been on all sides of her sport. She represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and spent time as her sport's representative on the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The coronavirus pandemic is a pivotal moment in history, perhaps the biggest since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The quad (Olympic cycle) started with 9/11,” Cronin, 55, said in a phone interview. “That was a big life-changing event, probably the last one. It was sort of like now, it's hard to say, 'Sports are really important.'
“It seems like the world around us is so different, and this is what we're good at, and this is how we inspire people, keep doing our sport.”
Similarly, after the attacks, many events were canceled in the aftermath. Despite pressure, the organizers of the regatta (sailing race) Cronin was scheduled to compete in chose to move forward with the event.
“It was a unique combination of factors that kept that one,” Cronin said. “The organizers got criticism. Their response was, 'We're going to try and be as normal as we can and thumb our noses at the terrorists.' I support their decision, but a lot of other people chose to cancel.”
The most noticeable change that followed in the time since 9/11 is the increase in security globally.
“I've only been to one Olympics so I can't compare it to others. Athens was the first after 9/11, there was an incredible amount of security. We had to go through a metal detector to get to our staging area, which was a separate venue on its own. It was like going through airport security. I don't think that'd happened before on the sailing side.
“There were people with machine guns with the breakwaters. We did a test event in 2002, they had it there. It was practice for the games, but also trying to keep us safe.”
Cronin placed 10th in the Yngling class at the Athens games after a particularly windy days. She won twice in the 16-race series, but it wasn't enough to combat the conditions.
After the qualifications changed before the 2008 Olympics, Cronin chose to retire from Olympic competition in 2007, but she still races at the international level.
“I think one of the interesting things right now is that you and I can have a tiny taste of what Olympic athletes go through with the amount of uncertainty,” Cronin said. “We're just not sure what happens next. We're learning to live with it. We're forced outside our comfort zone. The whole world is going through this at different times, but everybody's affected by it. There's not a single person you call that isn't thinking about this. It's a great unifying force if we allow it to be.”
Cronin and her husband work from home in Rhode Island so the stay-at-home orders haven't affected her daily life as she works on sailing marketing content and magazine articles.
The biggest impact is the cancellation of regattas just as the season is getting started as well as uncertainty about her planned book tour for her fourth novel, “Ferry to Cooperation Island.”
The novel, due to be released in June, is available for preorder on Amazon and Bookshop.org.