Row to London: The DNA of an Olympic Hopeful
January 16, 2012
Just about four years ago, Warren Anderson left Beijing, China with a feeling of having come very close to being an Olympic athlete, but not close enough.
When the final lineups were selected for the team that would compete in the 2008 Games, the 28 year old was named an alternate. He would travel with the team, train with the team, but not race.
When the Olympics ended, he was faced with two choices. Quit and pursue his career as a laboratory technician, or continue to work toward his dream of competing in the Olympics.
“It is motivating, but it is also a little bit of a difficult thing to get over mentally,” Anderson said. “I just remember feeling the difference between getting almost everything you want, and then not competing.”
And in the end, Anderson, of Paso Robles, Calif., chose both rowing and his career. He trained and earned the right to represent the United States in the single at the 2009 World Rowing Championships, finishing 12th overall, and then got a seat in the men’s double sculls in 2010 and the quad in 2011.
Until a year ago, when he moved to the USRowing Training Center in Chula Vista to train full time with the men’s squad, he worked in a laboratory for a San Francisco-based company called Investigen, doing pioneer work in the field of genetics and DNA testing.
Today, Anderson is putting the finishing touches on what will be his final Olympic cycle and is in the mix for selection to the men’s quad that will race in London this summer. Anderson was in the boat that qualified for the 2012 Games at the world championships last summer in Bled, Slovenia.
He is hopeful that his experience of just missing his goal in 2008 will keep him from missing this time around.
“You’re looking to not give an inch,” he said. “In 2008, all it takes is a fraction of a second and it feels like a couple of years worth of work is not wasted, but just not used. It’s definitely a boost, but at the same time it makes you a little bit more nervous and a little bit more anxious to be better than you were last time.
“In 2008, I saw guys who had won gold medals in Athens now sitting it out, or rowing as spares. It’s definitely something that pushes you forward.”
Like when he was training following Beijing, Anderson has his career and his future to divert his attention from the constant pressure of competing and training for the team.
He is working 20 hours per week for Aculon, Inc., a company developing non-biological, easy-clean, anti-smudge coatings for eyeglasses, sunglasses and other optical surfaces like flat panel displays and stainless steel.
And he is sure that when this Olympic cycle is finished, he will be heading back to school to pursue a PhD, continue to do lab work, get married and start a family.
But for now, the focus is making the quad again and becoming an Olympic athlete.
“That’s the goal,” Anderson said. “It’s going good. Things are very serious, very targeted. We have a lot of structure right now and that’s good. And we have a lot of guys with high expectations and that’s good. We have a lot of confidence.
“There is nothing we can do but keep working away and hope for some good results in a couple of months.”
Anderson attended San Joaquin Memorial High School, and Loyola Marymount University, graduating with a biology degree in 2006 . . . He was a track and field athlete, but didn’t begin rowing until college . . . Anderson is currently applying to several universities and hopes to earn a PhD and continue working in laboratories . . . He enjoys reading about history, the more ancient the better, doing crossword puzzles and cooking . . . While he likes to think everything he cooks is healthy, he concedes that his fried chicken recipe “is not for sedentary people.”
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