Under the Radar No More
August 02, 2012
LONDON – When the United States men’s four arrived at the Olympic racecourse in Eton Dorney, there was little anyone knew about them.
They had decided not to go to any of the Samsung World Cup races in Europe to stay at the USRowing Training Center at Chula Vista, Calif., and focus on training and coming together as a crew.
With two changes to the lineup, the crew of Scott Gault (Piedmont, Calif.), Charlie Cole (New Canaan, Conn.), Henrik Rummel (Pittsford, N.Y.) and Glenn Ochal (Philadelphia, Pa.) needed time to gel more than they needed to race.
So they came to the 2012 London Olympic Games an unknown crew. That can’t be the case anymore.
After chasing down the Greek boat that beat them last season in the opening heat Monday and then beating them again today, along with Germany, in the semifinal to advance to Saturday’s finals, they have made themselves known.
The U.S. men finished first in 6:01.72 in the race while Greece was second in 6:02.61 and Germany finished third in 6:04.61. They will row in the final on Saturday against Great Britain, Australia, The Netherlands, Greece and Germany.
“The race was pretty good,” said Gault. “(There were) pretty tricky conditions with the cross tailwind, so we had to focus on the rhythm and the rowing to get through and it was a little scratchy, but we got the job done. I think more importantly it was the low profile we've had all year - not going to the world cups and focusing on training.”
Unlike in the heat, where Greece slipped into an early lead, the U.S. this time fell behind Germany. It didn’t take long for the U.S. to hunt them down, pushing their bow into the lead before the 500-meter mark and then building on that down the length of the course.
They held onto the front of the pack throughout the race, but in the final few hundred meters, Greece made a move to catch them. It didn’t work but they did get closer. And now they have two days to make some slight adjustments in an effort to reach the medals podium.
Germany took off in the lead, but we knew it was going to be a long race, so getting that early lead was probably going to make them hurt down the race. Once we stopped their advances, we went to work and just started chipping away at them. Then once we saw we got the lead, we knew it wasn't going to be easy, we had to keep pushing,” Gault said.
“Saturday is going to be the big dance.”
While, Germany and Greece got a taste of what the U.S four has, two tough crews, Great Britain and Australia await. “We didn’t really know what to expect because GB and Australia were in the other semi and everyone in this one was going to think that they really had a chance.,” said Cole.
“We just thought that everyone would throw something at us and we were trying to focus on us, on our rowing and weather the storm and see if we could come out on top. We’ll go in and talk about it and see what we can improve for next time. I think we’re going to have to make some improvements if we want to come home with a medal. So we’re going to try and see what we can improve over the next couple of days.
“We’ll see Greece again and we know they’re good. They beat us last year. They’ve beaten us many times, more than once last year. We know they’re good. We know that they’re going to really do everything they can in the finals so we’ll see.”
One thing the crew wants to do is handle the wind better. In both their races they faced gusty winds that made steering difficult.
“It feels good to be in the final,” Rummel said. “I think we could have done a little better to handle the conditions, but all that said, I am happy with the way that that turned out.
“There was a very strong cross wind that makes you go down to port and it makes it feel heavy. It makes the race tougher. You can definitely feel it at the start. But everyone is dealing with it. We just have to make sure we handle it well.”
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Ed Moran, photo by Ed Hewitt, row2k Media