From a USRowing press release:
LONDON – It was only one race.
United States men’s eight coach Mike Teti said it over and over today, every time he was asked.
In reality, it was more than that. And considering what happened last summer on Lake Bled, when the U.S. men’s eight failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, it was way more.
Nearly a full year of questions were answered this morning when the men’s eight crew of coxswain Zach Vlahos (Piedmont, Calif.), Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.), Jake Cornelius (Brooktondale, N.Y.), Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.), Giuseppe Lanzone (Annandale, Va.), Will Miller (Duxbury, Mass.), Grant James (DeKalb, Ill.), Ross James (DeKalb, Ill.) and David Banks (Potomac, Md.) won its opening heat at Eton Dorney and advanced directly to the Wednesday final.
What the win did was demonstrate that the U.S. is still a country to be watched in the premier Olympic sweep rowing event, boost the confidence of the athletes in the boat, and set the tone for the rest of the week and the work ahead, because an even better performance is going to be needed to stand on the medal podium on Wednesday.
“I think it’s important just to give the guys confidence,” Teti said. “I think it’s a decent boat. I think they’re pretty good, but they’re all engineers and they’re a pretty quiet group. I think it was good for their own confidence to at least win a race here and they controlled it and I’m really happy with their performance.”
He should be. After running a camp that lasted seven months, involved up to 40 athletes and the help of USRowing coaching education director Kris Korzeniowski, the U.S. has eight has once again won a race at the Olympics.
And so the next race awaits. And the athletes are eager.
“We knew this was a chance to go straight through to the final. Everything was executed as planned. There was a nice tailwind, and we were controlled. It’s incredibly exciting. It’s the premier event, and I’m glad to make it to the final – finally,” said Brett Newlin.
“It was really good,” added Jake Cornelius. “We all feel very fortunate to be where we are, and appreciative of the people that helped us along the way. We’ve had a long road together, and it was really great to get out, and get racing.
"Now I’m pretty beat, pretty tired. It’s time to rest up and get ready for Wednesday.
“We’re going to try to stay focused and make the most of it. We have a few days to sharpen up and get faster. (The Germans) haven’t lost a race in a long time, but all the focus right now is on our boat; that’s what we can control.”
Other East Bay Rowers
Saturday's results for other rowing events with East Bay residents among the crew:
Women's Four: The women’s quad went to the line against Germany, Poland and China. They moved into second off the line and chased Germany the length of the course, but could not catch them, finishing second in 6:15.76 to Germany’s 6:13.62.
Because only one boat advanced from the two heats,the U.S. crew of Adrienne Martelli (University Place, Wash.), Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.), Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and Natalie Dell (Clearville, Pa.) will race again Monday for another chance at the final.
They will face Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Poland and China with the top four boats advancing to the final.
“I feel good,” said Dell. “It was an exciting race. It was our first time racing internationally as a quad and it was Adrienne Martelli’s first time stroking a quad internationally and she did fabulous. It was an exciting race and we’re ready to learn some more about ourselves in the rep,” she said.
“We’ll learn as much as we can over the next couple of days and go from this race to the next race and be able to put ourselves in a really good position to be in the final,” added Kalmoe. “We came here to race for a medal, and that’s what we intend to do. I’m feeling just fine, tired but happy, ready to put my feet up and rest for the afternoon and get ready to race again and do what we have to do.
Lightweight Men’s Four: The crew of Robin Prendes (Miami, Fla.), Nick LaCava (Weston, Conn.), William Newell (Weston, Mass.) and Anthony Fahden (Lafayette, Calif.) finished last in its heat in a 6:02.42 behind Switzerland (5:53.56), Russia (5:54.62), Denmark (5:55.64) and Italy (5:56.71), and will have to race again tomorrow in a repechage.
“Our race today was a bit of a disappointment,” Fahden said. “But we have another chance to qualify for the semifinal tomorrow morning. Given the conditions, our five hundred meter splits were uncharacteristically slow for us. We're making some technical and pacing changes in the hopes of putting together a better piece tomorrow,” he said.
“It was difficult,” added Prendes. “Not what we expected. But I guess now there is only one way to get out of this spot and that’s to race hard tomorrow. It’s difficult to say what happened. I don’t know. We’ll see, we’ll talk about it, approach the race a little differently, and we’ll see.”
They will face Poland, Italy and Czech Republic in the morning with the top three crews advancing to the semifinals.
For a schedule of men's eight and men's four (with Piedmonter Scott Gault in the crew), see this article.
For 2012 Olympic Games news, features and daily quotes from Team USA athletes, coaches, staff and family members, visit http://www.usrowing.org/Pressbox/2012Olympics.aspx.
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