"It truly is [a bond with the other crew members]," said Ibbetson,
a Newport Heights resident. "It's a great group of guys. And no one
can cut you. You're already in the history books. You've got your
seat for life."
While Ibbetson was able to continue his rowing career after
missing out on the '80 Games, it was the end of the road for many
"No matter what country it is, politics should play a distant
second to the athletes [during the Olympic Games]," Ibbetson said.
"The politics side of the boycott meant nothing and, in fact, proved
to be meaningless ... it ended some careers and changed the sporting
world to a large degree."
With the understanding that all are vulnerable, Ibbetson and the
U.S. eight, just like in '80, squared off against Eastern Bloc giants
Russia and East Germany prior to the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The
Americans beat both countries in a pre-Olympic regatta in Grunau,
Germany, then captured the silver medal in the Olympics, becoming the
first U.S. eight to earn an Olympic medal in 20 years.
As it turned out, Ibbetson was the only member of the 1980
eight-man sweeps to make the team in '84.
"[Winning the '84 silver medal] was definitely a significant
moment, but there were others that were also noteworthy, like beating
Russia and East Germany in East Germany in 1984," Ibbetson said, when
asked about highlights of his rowing career, which included competing
on the national team from 1977 through '84 and a four-year career at
UC Irvine, where he began rowing. Ibbetson was the first former
Anteater rower to be inducted into the UCI Hall of Fame and was part
of only the school's second Hall of Fame class (1984).
A 1975 UCI graduate, Ibbetson played water polo and basketball,
and competed in swimming in the spring, at Tustin High. Then, he was
introduced as a freshman to UCI head rowing coach Bob Ernst and
freshman coach Stu Gibson.
"It was a fun challenge for me at the time," Ibbetson said. "I had
gotten bored with swimming and I was only 6-foot-2, so I was not very
big for basketball. Rowing was there and I gave it a try and the rest
is in the history books now."
Ibbetson, who continued to train in Newport Harbor and the Back
Bay while attending graduate school at UCI, spent most of his career
rowing in the eights, the fastest boat in a regatta. "It's kind of
like a big machine," Ibbetson once said. "It's the flagship of the
whole Olympic rowing program and it's a fun boat when you make it go
Ibbetson later served on the board of directors for Newport
Aquatic Center and served as the board's president for three years in
the early stages of the Back Bay facility, which opened to the public
in 1987. "I think it has been a huge success for the community,"
Ibbetson said of NAC.
Ibbetson, the latest honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall of
Fame, is part owner of a commercial real estate investment company.
He and his wife of 20 years, Joyce, have two daughters: Casey, 16,
and Robin, 14.