Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee say the heartache they suffered four years ago has made what is likely the final leg of their journey together even more special.
Despite a chaotic lead-up to the 2012 Olympics, the Victoria rowers were confident heading into London after winning a silver medal in the women's lightweight double sculls at the previous year's world championships.
The bumpy road they thought had been conquered started when Tracy Cameron — who captured gold with Jennerich at the 2010 worlds — returned from injury prior to the Games and beat Obee in a row-off for a spot in the boat. But Cameron had a change of heart less than two months before the opening ceremonies and abruptly retired, thrusting Obee back into a seat with Jennerich.
The pair felt they were still on track for a possible podium finish but stumbled badly at the Olympic regatta and failed to even make the final.
Jennerich and Obee find themselves in a similar position in terms of results heading into the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro following a victory at their final World Cup race in May, however that's where the comparisons end.
"I look back on the major disappointment of being seventh (in London) and I understand that it was all part of the process," Jennerich said in an interview before departing for Brazil. "To know that you're in the best form of your life, you're in the best mental place, best physical place, the best emotional place ... you need to know that at one time you weren't.
"We draw a lot of confidence from feeling that contrast."
The nine-year age difference between Jennerich, who turned 34 on July 30, and Obee, who will be 25 in October, means that the first Games in South America will in all likelihood be their last shot at an Olympic medal together. They'll begin their quest Saturday with the heats.
Jennerich is "probably retiring" after Rio, while Obee isn't even sure she will return.
"When you feel you have found something that is truly the best it can be, it's hard to not want to just leave it there," said Obee. "It makes sense to come back. I could have one or two more Olympics in me. But this has been my first combination and it's something special. That's why I think we can win.
"If I don't feel that I can have a performance that is on par and a whole experience that is on the same level as Lindsay and I are having right now, it will make coming back a bit more of a challenge."
Jennerich and Obee were fourth at the 2015 worlds after winning silver in 2014, but won gold in Lucerne, Switzerland, at that World Cup in May in a race featuring an Olympic-calibre field.
"We've proven ourselves against some of the top teams we'll face in Rio," said Obee. "But it's more of a confidence builder in the way we went through that regatta."
That confidence is something that has struck Rowing Canada high performance director Peter Cookson and why the duo are viewed as medal favourites.
"They've been really working hard to get to the ultimate finish," he said. "They have a lot of belief in each other, and that goes a long way."
Obee said the trust they share didn't develop overnight, but was instead forged as part of a relationship that has blossomed on and off the water.
"We see each other almost every minute of every day and I see how she acts at every moment of the day," Obee said of Jennerich. "That's where that trust and confidence comes from. It doesn't come from her resume, it doesn't come from who she is as a person necessarily, it comes from what I see her do."
Competitors in women's lightweight double sculls have to average 125 pounds, with no rower out of the two coming in at more than 130 pounds in a 2,000-metre event that three-time Olympic gold medallist Marnie McBean calls the "Dirty Double."
"If you're going to watch (Jennerich and Obee) at the Olympics, you're going to need whatever you need to bring your heart (rate) down," said McBean. "These women have this incredible kick in the last 500.
"It's an incredible race to watch."
Jennerich said preparations for Brazil started as soon as the Canadians crossed the finish line in London, adding there was never any doubt she and Obee would be together at Rio's Lagoa Stadium.
"I think what it takes to get on the podium has mostly already been done. I'm not saying we're for sure on it, I'm just saying the dollars are in the bank," said Jennerich. "What it's now going to take is putting all the training that we've done over the last three years together and have it reach that pinnacle race."
— With files from Canadian Press sports reporter Lori Ewing