The men's four, including Piedmont's Scott Gault, won bronze in the rowing finals at the London Olympics today.
Great Britain won gold in 6:03.97. Australia took the silver in 6:05.19, while the U.S. boat posted a time of 6:07.20.
"What an amazing experience!" Gault told Piedmont Patch in an email this morning. "It's been a long tough journey and today we earned that reward, but not without the support of everyone around us, especially our coach Tim McLaren."
The bronze was the first Olympic medal for the men's four since 1992.
Gault, 28, Charlie Cole, 25, (New Canaan, Conn.), Henrik Rummel, 24, (Pittsford, N.Y.) and Glenn Ochal, 25, (Philadelphia, Pa.) came into the Olympics a new lineup, without an international medal among them, or an international race as a crew, and they had just run with the best in the world to claim the third Olympic rowing medal for the United States at this Games. Only Gault had been to an Olympics before.
After winning both its heat and semifinal, the U.S. men fell into third place behind Great Britain and Australia and held there. The U.S. made moves throughout the 2,000-meters and pushed to the limit to try and move one medal closer to the top, rowing the fastest 500-meter split of the six boats in the third quarter. But the lead boats held and Great Britain won in 6:03.97, Australia took second in 6:05.19 with the U.S. finishing in third in 6:07.20.
When the U.S. boat crossed the line, Gault fell back into Cole’s lap, exhausted and happy.
At a press conference following the event, Gault said, “The guys behind me laid down a powerful rhythm and I just went with it."
"We pounded down the course, didn’t give a stroke up, and stayed focused. There was a chance there where we wanted to sprint to the line there to get a silver, we gave it everything we had. We’re going home with smiles on our faces.
“I just know the last tow hundred and fifty meters, I laid everything on that oar, just everything I possibly could. And right before the end, I had absolutely nothing left.
“This is a tribute to (Tim McLaren, men’s head coach). He brought a couple of athletes who have never been in an Olympics, never won a medal, even at a world championship. We prepared for these games, were more professional in the way we prepared than in anything else I have ever done in my life and I give that all to Tim.
“He’s been around for so many Olympics and he’s seen it all and we trusted him and that trust got us to this.”
Gault also talked about his appearance at the 2008 Olympics.
“It was tough," he said. "There is such a big difference between fourth and third; it’s the difference between standing on the podium and going home with your head down. And it just fueled the fire for the rest of the year, every single practice, every single day.
“This last four years have been good. We were fortunate to have Tim McLaren. He’s an incredible coach. We started the quadrennial with not a great performance. We really had to work from what we were given. These three guys to my left are incredible athletes and Tim really coached them well and we really built the program together. We all worked hard.
“None of us have ever won a world championship medal, three had never been in an Olympics before. To my right, is a group with plenty of medals, plenty of gold medals. But with Tim McLaren we were better prepared than a lot of people and we just really focused with professionalism and that really got us to the medal table here and I’m really happy about that.”
McLaren, the men's head coach, said, "I think it was a good effort from the guys, I think they did a great job. There’s a lot of medals in those two boats. And we fought through, we had the fastest third five hundred, and we had some overlap there in the fourth, so there was a bit of a scramble in the end and the guys laid it out there.
“Once you get to know all the guys, it’s a personal thing. You know what it means. When you get older, you know these things a bit more. I feel for Mike (Teti) and the guys [men's eight finals with Piedmonter Zach Vlahos as coxswain]. I thought they were a bit stiff in their race and it was awfully, awfully close in their race between those five eights.
“After an average start they really dug in. I think coaches really admire all those things but unfortunately without the medals it’s hard.
“I think with seven of the 24 it was their first Olympics. And three of the guys of the other remainder they got in with nine-months experiencing sculling in 08 so it’s almost 20 guys in their first games and with lots of them carrying on hopefully we’ve laid some foundations.
“I think there’s been a better job all things considered. We had a few experienced guys, fourth in the eight, third in the four, this is a deeper field in this Olympics.
"Our sculling still needs work, but it developed some guys for the sweep program and people don’t understand that. We took Glenn Ochal and Will Miller out of the sculling program and the quad fought tooth and nail.
"The New Zealanders missed by a few seconds, but then being New Zealand they then got seventh.
"It’s not like we’re disgraceful in sculling but we do need to get a little traction. We’ve got to press on and teach kids to scull. If anything else it develops kids for the sweep program. For these pairs and fours you need good touch, you need to be able to steer, you need to be able to make decisions, you need to know how to read a race plan.
“The guys in the four, this is the first time together racing as a group and that will give them some confidence. Three of them are going on and some guys in the eight are going on and some of the scullers are going on and we have some good kids in the u23 group this year and last year. I think we’re in a reasonable place. If we can tighten it up, we can continue to press on.
“We’ve come with a rush this year. Our results the last few years haven’t been anything at all to get excited about and here we are. We’re competitive again, we look a little more respectable than we have and I’m grateful.”
Henrik Rummel, men’s four: “It feels good but I thought we were catching them and then they did a great job holding us off."
Charlie Cole, men’s four: “We thought if we had our best race we would have a chance at a silver or gold, but we had a pretty darn good race and we came away with bronze which isn’t a disappointment. We’re on the podium now. Which was goal number one. Henrik is right, we thought we were there. We’ll have to watch the tape and see what happened. I don’t know.
“Certainly I think people have to be excited about the work we’ve put in. We put in a lot of hard work since last year. We’re young guys and we have a lot to look forward to and we’ll have to think about and reflect on our performance and let the dust settle. But we have a lot to be confident about and hopefully a lot to look forward to in our rowing careers.”
Of the four, only Gault plans on retiring after the London Olympics, according to Us Rowing.
Ed Moran of US Rowing contributed to this article.
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