By Mat Mikesell  |  BSU at the Games

Whether it was walking with Team USA during the Opening Ceremony or playing Sudoku on the treadmills in the workout room, kayaker Caroline Queen will leave London with memories she will never forget.

Though the Darnestown, Md., native placed 17th in the women’s K1, two spots shy of qualifying for the semifinals, she is taking her experiences from London to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“This whole experience has been incredible,” Queen said. “The result wasn’t what I’m capable of.”

Her parents, David and Sharon, as well as her cousin and a number of family friends, joined her in London. Even after watching her compete in athletics throughout her youth, they were still the typical nervous mom and dad during her run to the Olympic Games.

“Watching major competitions is extraordinarily nerve-wracking for parents,” Sharon Queen said. “[Her father and I] hope that Caroline will compete well and fulfill her expectations, but we cannot control what happens.”

Once her daughter finally qualified for the Olympic Games, she was relieved the grueling process spanning more than nine months and three countries was over.

The kayaker came to London having little expectations of what the Olympic Village and the Games would be like but came away with a positive experience. She loved being able to train whenever she wanted, for as long as she wanted. She was also a fan of having fresh seafood and grilled vegetables available to her in the cafeteria.

But since she was eliminated from her competition Monday, she’s had more time for herself and to enjoy London with her family.

“I’ve been to the gym a couple times and did some running,” Queen said. “I went with my family earlier this week and saw ‘Spamalot.’”

Ranked 38th in the world by the International Canoe Federation, the 20-year-old Queen has a chance to improve considerably as one of the younger competitors when she attempts to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Despite her potential, though, Queen always been an advocate for helping younger younger than her train for the Olympic Games. Now that she’s finally competed in one, she has more advice for them when she returns to the United States.

“It’s an honor and it’s something I’ll always take with me,” Queen said. “It’s something you want to chase for sure. It’s an experience any athlete wants.”

This weekend she heads home to the United States, where she will return to Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., for the fall semester. But in between her studies, she will continue to train.

Her parents said Caroline learned the lesson of grace in London from not getting the result she hoped for while competing. Her mother said she showed great character on the course as well as in her conduct afterward.

If she doesn’t medal in Rio de Janeiro, her mother said she still expects her daughter to compete at her highest level.

“We expect her to enjoy the experience and do her best,” Sharon Queen said. “That is all we ever expect. Life is about living your experiences rather than racking up results.”

Mat Mikesell is a senior journalism major at Ball State University covering badminton, canoeing and sailing for BSU at the Games. Follow Mat and the BSU team at @MatMikesell@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.