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November 15, 2012

Triathlete reflects on Olympic experience

Sarah Groff made a quick change Friday at Bassett Hospital.

She’s used to that by now, though.

U.S. Olympic triathlete Groff took time out of her brief homecoming tour to meet the friends and colleagues of her parents — Dr. Gerald Groff and pediatric physician’s assistant Jeannine Groff — at the hospital’s Clark Auditorium.

Groff said she never imagined speaking to anyone as an Olympian, and she certainly wasn’t planning to spend too much time describing her fourth-place finish at the London Games this past summer.

Groffy, as she’s known to family and friends, shifted gears Friday after an inspirational introduction by Bertine McKenna. The Bassett Hospital COO included a story about her 12-year-old grandniece, who watched the Olympics on television and wondered if she might be as brave as Groff some day.

“I am going to change my speech a little bit and focus more on the race itself,” Groff said. “I didn’t think I was going to talk about it because it is just two hours of my life, but what Bertine said about her 12-year-old grandniece really touched me.”

Groff, who will turn 31 on Nov. 27, followed with a fairly detailed inside look at her Olympic


“In a lot of ways, it’s pretty routine,” she said. “You show up in a random country, you line up while wearing your bathing suit and some random camera catches you with snot hanging out of your nose.

“Except there are hundreds of thousands of people there because it is the only thing that’s free,” she continued. “I don’t know if you heard about the fiasco with tickets, but it was all over the news there. No one could get tickets. We couldn’t even get tickets for things. And let’s face it, a lot of Olympic sports have loyal viewers, but for the most part, people tune in only every four years. So instead of a few viewers, you’re being watched by millions.

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