One Race That Really Mattered
July 28, 2012
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.”
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.
Ed Moran, photo by Ed Hewitt, Row2k Media