Immediately after the race, the American team shook hands with some Nazi officers. Don Hume accepted a massive wreath, which he passed to his teammates. Reporters asked Al Ulbrickson what he thought of his team winning a gold medal; he replied, “They were the finest I ever saw seated in a shell.”
The American athletes enjoyed their triumph—they were the best in the world and, ultimately, the best rowers Ulbrickson ever coached.
The next day, Leni Riefenstahl asked to film the American team; she’d already gotten great footage of the race, which would appear in Olympia. Later, the boys watched the soccer final between Germany and Italy, and then received their own medals. Standing on the podium, every one of the boys fought back tears. Later that night, the team, except for Joe, went out drinking. Joe spent the night lying awake in his bed, staring at his gold medal. In the final moments of the race, he had realized something: he had no choice but to trust his teammates to work with him and row the boat to victory. Joe “felt whole.”
21st century rowing enthusiasts can still enjoy the American team’s victory in 1936 by watching Riefenstahl’s Olympia; it’s a little surprising that Riefenstahl would make an American victory against a German team one of the central moments of her film. After the race, Joe realized that he’d formed a lifelong bond with his teammates. The fact that Joe was alone in his room when he realized this might suggest that, even if Joe will remain a quiet, humble man for the rest of his life, he made lifelong friends through rowing.