From a US rowing press release:
LONDON – Finally, it’s time to row for medals.
While there are still a few crews that have one more step to go for a chance at an Olympic final, the United States will send three boats to the line Wednesday with a chance to win a medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Each of the events is equally important, but it is the men’s eight that should draw the most attention within the rowing community in the United States. By now, anyone who has been paying attention knows the tale of the boat that didn’t qualify at the preceding world championships for the first time in American rowing history.
Followed by the fact that, after months of an intense training camp run under the direction of Mike Teti, one of the most storied men’s eight coaches in the country’s history, the U.S. crew stormed through its opening heat at the Olympic race course at Eton Dorney Saturday and advanced directly to Wednesday’s 12:30 p.m. final.
So now, the real test is here. And the 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.) is ready for the opportunity.
“We’re good,” said Newlin, who will make his final appearance in a national team boat and was preparing to go for a final tune up this afternoon. “We’re getting a sense of finality here. We’re going to go out and tune it up for my last practice, ever, and tomorrow we’re going to lay it all out there.”
Newlin said that after three days of light practices, he and his teammates are rested and energized.
“We have a lot of energy,” he said. “There’s a few nerves mixed in there. Compared to what we do during the year, the last few practices are pretty light, pretty tame, so there is a lot of energy brewing and we’re ready to unleash on that first stroke tomorrow."
While Newlin will retire after Wednesday, this is Ross James’ first Olympic Games.
“It’s one race to win all the marbles,” he said. “So we’re going to go out there and do what we’ve been training to do this entire time. We’re going to do what we can, uncertainty or not. The fastest boat will win.”
There aren’t many rowing experts who will handicap the men’s eight to win the whole thing. Certainly the odds-on favorite has to be the German men. They have been unbeaten at the world cup and world championship level since 2009. If they win, it will be the first time for Germany as a unified country.
Germany, like the U.S., won its heat, finishing with a time of 5:25.52. The U.S. clocked in at 5:30.72. Times can often mean nothing in an event this big, but for the record, the other crews all had faster rows in Tuesday's repechage, with Great Britain going 5:25.52, Canada 5:27.41, The Netherlands 5:27.78 and Australia 5:28.67.
As the defending silver-medal boat in the women’s quadruple sculls, the United States crew of Adrienne Martelli (University Place, Wash.), Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.), Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and Natalie Dell (Clearville, Pa.) should contend for the podium, even with several changes in the crew.
They race at 12:10 p.m. against Germany, Ukraine, Australia, Great Britain and China.
Their path to the finals has not been dominant after missing their first shot in the heat and then finishing second in the repechage. But they are an experienced group that can make adjustments and should be ready.
Germany has the best time from the heat with a 6:13.62, Ukraine rowed a 6:14.82 and in the repechage, the U.S came close to nipping Australia and finished 6:19.49 to 6:18.86.
Rowing in their first ever Olympics is the women’s pair of Sarah Zelenka (Itasca, Ill.) and Sara Hendershot (West Simsbury, Conn.). The duo has been impressive in their time together, staging a dramatic come-from-behind win at trials and then finishing second to Great Britain to advance directly to the final from the Saturday heat.
They race at 11:50 a.m. against Great Britain, New Zealand, Romania, Germany and Australia.
Great Britain’s Heather Stanning and Helen Glover set an Olympic best time by four seconds in the heat. But the U.S. was only off of them by two seconds. Also racing are the reigning world champion New Zealand pair of Juliette and Rebecca Scown.
Also rowing Wednesday for a shot at the finals at 11:00 a.m is the men’s pair crew of Silas Stafford (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Tom Peszek (Farmington Hills, Mich.). They face Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Canada and The Netherlands.
The pair stumbled in its heat and nearly suffered a disastrous mistake in the final strokes of the race to advance out of the repechage. New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray have not lost since 2009 and Canada’s David Calder and Scott Frandsen were the Olympic silver medalists in the event in 2008.
First up Wednesday morning is U.S. men’s single sculler, Ken Jurkowski (New Fairfield, Conn.) who finished fifth in his quarterfinal today and will now row in the semifinal for a place in the either the third or fourth-level final.
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.
For a schedule of men's rowing events (PDT) and information on live streaming, see this article.
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