WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – While any other day, it may be odd to party at 8:30 in the morning, it’s perfectly acceptable when you’re watching a family member go for gold at the Rio Olympics a half a world away.
That’s exactly what friends and family of Olympic athlete Emily Regan did early Saturday at Giancarlo’s in Williamsville.
Regan, 28, is Buffalo born and a Nichols graduate.
On Saturday morning, she competed with Team USA in the women’s eight rowing event.
"I’d say as it gets closer, I get a little bit more nervous,” said Colleen Regan-Kreuz about a half hour before it started.
Colleen is Regan's aunt, and she organized the Olympic watch party for their friends and family here in Western New York.
"Just to get to this point is just fantastic. Anything else on top of that is just icing on the cake,” said Regan’s uncle Tim Kreuz just before the race.
Around 50 people gathered there to see if the women could pull it off.
Regan took a less traditional --and that much more impressive—path to qualifying for the Olympics.
"She only started rowing when she went to college, so it’s an incredible story of really hard work and dedication,” said Colleen Regan-Kruez.
Just after 10:00 a.m., they were off, and despite a brief scare where Canada pulled ahead, USA caught back up, solidifying their gold medal win in the end.
"We're loving it, we're loving it baby!” said Regan’s uncle. “It looked a little scary there for a minute, but came through when she needed it. Just fantastic.”
Regan's immediate family is in Rio with her. For her extended family, being together for this moment and watching it live was the next best thing.
"I'm just thrilled. It’s great,” said Colleen.
It was a gold medal for Regan, a proud moment for Buffalo, and also a salute to local history and Regan’s family: It turns out Regan's great grandfather was a champion rower from Buffalo more than 100 years ago.
"She'll be an Olympian all her life. This is wonderful,” said relative Pat Regan.