The Longest Odds

Longest Odds

A rare glimpse into the Olympic Rowing Team, this photo-documentary by Shivani Parmar captures the true Olympic team journey.

The Longest Odds

Go inside the Olympic Journey

The Longest Odds is a photo-documentary that goes inside the Olympic journey and illustrates what you do not see on television. Read this and you will understand what athletes go through during their years-long journeys.

The Longest Odds allows us to see those highs and lows, the conflicts, joy, exhaustion, elation, fear – and most of all, the bonds of friendship being indelibly forged.

Written and photographed by Shivani Parmar with over 500 photographs as well as personal interviews with the likes of Mike Teti, Pete Cipollone, Bryan Volpenhein, Marcus McElhenney and many more.

Experience the bond of the team

This book offers an intimate view of the US Olympic rowing team, and through their experiences from the Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London Olympics, we can see what it truly means to be a member of a team, to be a leader of a winning crew, and to be pursuing a dream at the highest level.

Team training portrait

For those who dare to dream

Above all, this book is dedicated to all those who have ever dreamed of pursuing something so big, so distant, so far-fetched, so impossible, so unattainable… and who have still gone for it despite the longest odds.

What is The Longest Odds?

This is the story of athletes that goes far beyond what gets shown in the news and from the press stands. And while we might never find that one true way to guarantee ultimate victory, the ride becomes a kind of victory itself. As these athletes share their minute-to-minute and day-to-day lives, it will make plain why they choose to try against the longest of odds.

SHIVSPIX Project Open Archive

Great book! A rare opportunity to look into the inner working of an National Olympic Team in an unfiltered way. Extremely interesting to read the athlete interviews – they open up to Shivani as on would only do with a close friend. The rowers talk freely about competition, dedication, winning, losing, and their occasional “what does it all mean” moments. To me, this book is about much more than sport. A lot of lessons to be learned about setting goals, teamwork, business and life in general. And yes, that you’re out of shape and should start working out. And last – exceptional sports photos and portrait work!!! Makes you want to go out there and try rowing out! Highly recommended…

Tom Erlich
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Rowing Magazine The Longest Odds
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SHIVSPIX USRowing Features The Longest Odds

It’s rare to get such a detailed behind-the-scenes view of National Team and Olympic life, probably because so few people have had such long-term relationships with as large a group of elite athletes as Shivani has had. Most books on the subject focus on the positive aspects as told by the winners, but this work presents a much more balanced perspective through the ups and downs of elite athletic competition. The candid pictures are similarly comprehensive, covering not just racing but practice and life off the water as well. Shivani has immense photographic talent, and leverages that ability to enhance the many stories told throughout the book. The Longest Odds is a must-read for anyone involved in the rowing community, and more broadly for anyone fascinated by the ups, downs and sacrifices made by a few of the world’s greatest athletes.

John Hertzer

Great book! Very inspiring and very humbling at the same time. Even if you are not and are not planning to be an Olympic athlete you get inspired by the hard work and dedication these guys put into their dream. And this is something that I think everyone can take away. But it’s not just the great story, the writing and the pictures help bring the dream and the struggle alive in a very personal way. You feel and hope with the athletes and get disappointed when they have setbacks. Very much recommended, no matter whether you are into rowing or not.

Gabriel Straub

Creating The Longest Odds

I’m not sure I appreciated how special my time with the National Team was. I’m not sure any of us did. But now, many years later, after we’ve all scattered and gone our separate ways, it’s hard not to get sentimental.

I arrived at the National Team Training Center at Mercer Lake in New Jersey during the summer of 2006, with the ambition of creating an intimate photo essay depicting what it really takes to get to the Olympics.

Sure, we all see the scenes from the Olympics with the boats at the starting lines, or from the side lines, or, most memorably, crossing the finish lines. I wanted to show the team beyond the lines.

When lightweight coach John Parker asked me how long that would take, I asked to attend eight to ten team practices. But, ten practices later, I realized I had barely scratched the surface. If I really wanted to do justice to these amazing athletes, I would have to stick around a bit longer.

And so the adventure began.

I found myself returning day after day, embarking on a journey that would take me around the world and into the lives of some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

I joined the team at the boathouse for practices, at home during their downtime, for selection events, and at international races.

The goal became to create the perfect masterpiece documentary detailing every tiny aspect of the Olympic journey.

Shivani Self-portrait

But seven years, 165,708 photographs, 3,748 minutes of interview recordings, 34 drafts and two hard drive crashes later, my ambitions have changed. I look back and no longer see the trivial details of who said what and how each race went. Instead I see the things that really mattered.

Left behind are the shared experiences we had, the lessons we learned and the friendships we made along the way. I’ve come to realize that those are the real stories of the Olympic journey.

And yet, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to tell that side of the Olympic journey as a linear story. The best I can offer is a mosaic of photographs, conversations and memories.

The result is this book, made for all those who have ever wondered what the Olympic journey entails, particularly for a team sport.

But most of all, this book is for all those who have ever dreamed of pursuing something so big, so distant, so far-fetched, so impossible, so unattainable… and who have still gone for it despite the longest odds.

– Shivani

Great Book – really enjoyed it. As a lover of sports photography – I was drawn to order the book for that reason. I was surprised to not only enjoy the photos; but to get inside the “real life” of these top level athletes – especially in a sport where personal drive / not money is the incentive. As a parent of a rower – in a sport that is definitely NOT spectator friendly; it was nice to learn a little about what happens out there on the water. Made me appreciate the commitment my daughters have made to the sport.

Cherie Boxberger

I have really enjoyed it and thought it gave a thorough portrayal of the guys on the team. I loved reading what the best in the sport are actually thinking during the good and bad times. I wish there were more books like this. In other sports, we get day-to-day updates and press conferences of our favorite teams and players, but, as mentioned in the book, rowing receives little to no press outside of the summer of the Olympics. So, thank you for your time and effort, I really appreciated reading it and recommend it to any rower.


What Shivani has captured in The Longest Odds is an authentic glimpse into the Olympic experience. I trained with the athletes featured in this book from the Summer of 2007 until the winter of 2009, and watched these stories first hand. Shivani has bridged the gap between being a talented photographer, and telling a story wonderfully. I recommend this book for any athlete or sports fan – the photographs alone allow the reader to experience the emotions of being a world class athlete and connect with these athletes as individuals.

Daniel Gilbert
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