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Park City’s Devery Karz disappointed but grateful for her Olympic opportunity

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Devery Karz and Kathleen Bertko, of United States, compete in the women's rowing lightweight double sculls final during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Devery Karz and Kathleen Bertko, of United States, compete in the women’s rowing lightweight double sculls final during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Andre Penner, Associated Press

It’s been a whirlwind experience. I have a few concrete things I feel. I wouldn’t have done this with anybody else. (Bertko) was an incredible teammate, and we were always striving for the best we could be. – Devery Karz

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Devery Karz still has a lot of emotions to sort out after her first Olympic appearance ended differently than she hoped.

But when the 28-year-old Park City native considers that she and her partner Kate Bertko finished 10th in the world in lightweight double sculls, she acknowledges that is, indeed, an accomplishment worth celebrating.

“Yeah, 10th in the world,” she said. “There is only one lightweight category…It’s a pretty huge thing we accomplished. It’s exciting, especially in a field that close, that exciting, that competitive.”

The field was so deep that the Olympic gold medalists from the London Games competed in the C final. The team of Ilse Paulis and Maaike Head, Netherlands, won the gold medal with a time of 7:04.73, while Canadians Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee earned silver with a time of 7:05.88. Karz and Bertko finished fourth in their heat of the B Final for 10th place, finishing in 7:29.73.

“It was exciting to be a part of that,” said Karz, who spent the day with her family, planning which Olympic events she will attend now that her competition has ended.

Karz didn’t take up the sport of rowing until she was nearing the end of her freshman year of college at Oregon State. A former cross-country runner and mountain biker, she said she is still processing the disappointment of falling short of her goal to win an Olympic medal.

“Obviously, I have a lot of emotions I haven’t worked out myself yet,” she said Friday night. “It’s been a whirlwind experience. I have a few concrete things I feel. I wouldn’t have done this with anybody else. (Bertko) was an incredible teammate, and we were always striving for the best we could be.”

The pair felt they were poised to earn a medal in these Games, so anything else is a bitter pill to swallow.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted,” she said. “We’re all here to win. But it’s sports, and there can only be one winner in a field of incredible, strong women. It’s exciting to be a part of this group, of these women who are awesome. So I’m happy with what we were able to do.”

Karz said she has only made one decision about her future as it relates to rowing. “I’m going to take all of 2017 off,” she said. “I’m going to get into other sports, take a step back for awhile.” The demands of training have taken a toll on her physically and emotionally, as she sacrificed time with her family to chase her Olympic dream. Whether she wants to do that for another four years is something she’ll decide after some time away from the sport.

“That’s the golden question for all rowers,” she said of whether to keep racing. “A four-year cycle is a really long cycle.” She said her travel schedule has meant that she and her boyfriend spend more time in separate cities than they do together, and she’s looking forward to returning to her hometown of Park City and reconnecting with family and friends.

“I have family goals and friend goals that I’m going to work on,” she said.

She said she feels fortunate that she grew up in Park City where she was exposed to so many amazing outdoor sports and experiences.

“It’s one of those things, you don’t know how lucky you are,” she said, “until you leave.”

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