With Years of Training Completed, It’s Time for Racing
By Ed Moran • August 1, 2016
RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil – On calendars across the U.S., August 2016 has marked a life-changing time for the athletes who have dreamed of competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the days, weeks and months between London 2012 and Rio 2016, the Aug. 5 opening ceremony of the 31st Olympiad was pinpointed.
Last week, the journey turned from long, hard days of training and nights of pondering the unknowns, to a bus ride to the airport and a plane to South America. Dreams changed from rollercoasters of unrelentingly difficulty and exhilarating performances to reality.
Some of the athletes that will begin competition on the rowing venue, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, have worked toward this moment for years – some for more than a decade – and the thought of being there or not being there has been among the first and last thoughts they have had every day.
“We’re all pretty aware that there is no next year,” said Charlie Cole back in December, when the clock turned on the last hours of 2015 and entered the official Olympic year. “If you want a second chance, you have to wait four more years.
“If you’re not thinking that way, you’re not going to be at your best. All it takes is a couple of bad days, and you can go from being in a great spot to being on the outside, looking in.”
Cole, a returning Olympian with a 2012 bronze medal tucked away at home in New Canaan, Conn., is one of the athletes who will be on the start line next week when racing begins. He endured those endless mornings and evenings and will row in the men’s four, the same event he competed in at the London Games.
Forty other U.S. athletes, whose countless meters of training have led them all here, join him for this decisive moment in their lives. Their days of looking at the calendar and pondering are over.
The racing – and dreams of standing on an Olympic podium – are what lies ahead.
“Four years can seem like a long time,” said Curtis Jordan, USRowing Director of High Performance, and the architect of the 2016 campaign. “There is a lot of hard work and long hours that go into the preparation of an Olympic athlete, an Olympic team.
“The end of that journey is here. Our athletes have arrived in Rio and are getting settled for that final bit of preparation before racing starts. The excitement and splendor of the Olympic Games is becoming real and tangible.
“Unlike every other competitive event they have experienced in the past four years, the Olympics present a unique set of challenges. It is easy to get distracted and to lose focus in this environment, but our athletes have been prepared for these challenges, and I am sure they will stay focused and do the job they have trained to do,” he said.
“It will be a full week of racing. It will be some of the best rowing the world has ever seen. And I can’t wait.”
Eleven crews – five men’s boats and six women’s – are set to begin competition Saturday, Aug. 6., including the women’s single sculls, women’s double sculls, lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls, men’s and women’s pair, women’s quadruple sculls, lightweight men’s four, men’s four and men’s and women’s eight.
Of the 41 athletes, 12 are returning Olympians. Twenty-eight have competed on previous senior national teams, and one is a first-time senior national team athlete.
Of the athletes on the roster, seven won medals at the 2012 Olympic Games; Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) and Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.) won gold in the women’s eight, Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) and Adrienne Martelli (University Place, Wash.) return to the bronze-medal women’s quad, and Cole, Henrik Rummel (Pittsford, N.Y) and Glenn Ochal (Philadelphia, Pa.) won bronze in the men’s four.
In addition, Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.) rowed in the men’s eight in London, Ellen Tomek (Flushing, Mich.) competed in the women’s double in Beijing and Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass.) rowed in the women’s single in London. Amanda Polk (Pittsburgh, Pa.). was an alternate in 2012. Logan and Kalmoe are the sole returning two-time Olympians having competed in the gold-medal women’s eight and the women’s double in Beijing, respectively.
The U.S. won three medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The men’s four won bronze; the U.S. women’s quad also won bronze in London and is the defending world champion, while the U.S. women’s eight seeks a historic 11th-consecutive world/Olympic title in Rio.
From Algeria to Zimbabwe, there will be 69 nations competing at the Rio Olympics in rowing, with the largest team coming from Great Britain. The British have qualified 12 out of a possible 14 boat classes.
The Brits come to Rio with notable streaks on the line, including the men’s four, which has won the last four titles. Defending the women’s pair championships are Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Both New Zealand and the United States have qualified 11 boats. New Zealand will highlight Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the men’s pair. Murray and Bond came together in 2009 and have become one of the most successful rowing partnerships ever. Also defending an Olympic title is Mahe Drysdale in the men’s single sculls.
Eleven countries will be competing for the first time in rowing at an Olympic Games. Vanuatu’s Luigi Teilemb will be the first rower from his country.
Teilemb is part of the growth of rowing in this Pacific Island nation and will compete in the men’s single sculls. Singapore is also competing in rowing for the first time with women’s single sculler Saiyidah Mohamed Rafa’ee. Libya, Ecuador, Togo, Nigeria, Bahamas, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Angola are also competing for the first time.
The rowing athletes with the most Olympic Games under their belts are seven-time Olympian Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus and Olaf Tufte of Norway. Karsten is the only woman to have won two gold medals (1996 and 2000) in the single. Tufte has been to six Olympics and has won gold in the men’s single sculls at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. He will compete in the men’s double sculls in Rio.
U.S. Boat-By-Boat Preview
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
Representing the U.S. in the lightweight men’s double sculls are Andrew Campbell, Jr. (New Canaan, Conn.) and Joshua Konieczny (Millbury, Ohio). Campbell has rowed on 11 national teams at every age level. He attempted to make the 2012 Olympic Team, winning the U.S. trials in the lightweight double, but did not qualify the boat at the 2012 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
He won consecutive gold medals in the lightweight men’s single sculls at the 2013 and 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships and took bronze in the event at the 2012 World Rowing Senior and Junior Championships. Campbell and Konieczny finished eighth at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, where they qualified the boat class for Rio. They earned their place on the Olympic roster by winning the 2016 U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials in Sarasota, Fla.
Konieczny is a four-time national team athlete. He finished 10th in the event at the 2014 World Rowing Championships and sixth in the lightweight four at the 2013 World Rowing Under 23 Championships.
The U.S. last raced in the event at the 2004 Olympic Games, finishing seventh.
Twenty crews are entered in this popular event, including the defending Olympic champions from Denmark, Rasmus Quist and Mads Rasmussen. London silver and bronze medalist Great Britain and New Zealand are also entered.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
After winning Olympic trials and setting a home course record on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., Nareg Guregian (North Hills, Calif.) and Anders Weiss (Barrington, R.I.) will represent the U.S. in the men’s pair.
A crew that came together late in the spring, Guregian and Weiss are a combination of veteran and rookie. Guregian, a seven-time national team athlete, has competed on three senior world championship teams and won a national collegiate championship while an undergraduate at the University of California. Weiss rowed on the 2013 U.S. Under 23 National Team and won a silver medal in the eight. This is his first senior national team. The U.S. finished eighth in the event in 2012 and won silver in the event in 2000.
Thirteen crews are entered in the event, the most dominant being Murray and Bond. London finalists France, Great Britain, Italy and Australia are all entered.
Men’s Four (M4-)
Selected from the USRowing Training Center camp, Seth Weil (Menlo Park, Calif.), Rummel, Matt Miller (Fairfax, Va.) and Cole will represent the U.S. in the men’s four. The U.S. won bronze in the event in 2012. Cole and Rummel return from that crew.
Weil has rowed in the four at the last three world championships, winning silver in 2014 and bronze in 2013. He was in the crew that qualified the boat class last summer. Miller has rowed in the eight at the past two world championships. The U.S. has competed in the event at 18 Olympic Games. The last gold medal came in 1960.
Thirteen countries have crews entered including the defending champions from Great Britain. London finalists Australia, The Netherlands, Greece and Germany will all be there.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
The U.S. qualified the lightweight men’s four with a seventh-place finish at the 2015 World Rowing Championships. Selected to race in this crew are Tyler Nase (Phoenixville, Pa.), Edward (Mix) King (Ironton, Mo.), Robin Prendes (Miami, Fla.) and Anthony Fahden (Lafayette, Calif.). Nase, King and Fahden return from the 2015 crew. Both Fahden and Prendes were in the crew that finished eighth in the London Olympics. The U.S. has had a crew in the boat class in five Olympic Games. Its best finish was a bronze medal in 1996.
There will be 13 countries chasing medals in the event. South Africa will defend its 2012 gold and will be joined by finalists Great Britain, Denmark, Switzerland and The Netherlands. The U.S. has had a crew in the boat class in five Olympic Games. Its best finish was a bronze medal in 1996.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
The men’s eight will go into Rio competition one of this year’s most internationally tested crews. It has twice gone to the line in 2016 and faced some of the seven crews entered for the 2016 including defending champion Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Great Britain and New Zealand.
The U.S. faced those crews in Lucerne, Switzerland at the 2016 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta – where they won and qualified the boat class for Rio – and at World Rowing Cup II, where they captured bronze. The crew is comprised of coxswain Sam Ojserkis (Linwood, N.J.), Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.), Rob Munn (Redmond, Wash.), Mike DiSanto (Boston, Mass.), Kasprzyk, Ochal, Alex Karwoski (Hollis, N.H.), Hans Struzyna (Kirkland, Wash.) and Sam Dommer (Folsom, Calif.).
Of the nine athletes, three return to the eight from last summer including Hack, Karwoski and Dommer. Ochal, a London men’s four bronze medalist, and Kasprzyk, who was in the eight that finished inches out of the medals in 2012, provide a veteran presence in the crew. Ojserkis, Struzyna, DiSanto and Munn are newcomers.
The U.S. has had a men’s eight in competition since the inception of the modern Olympic Games in 1896. The U.S. last won the event in 2004 in Athens.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
London Olympian Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass.) makes her second appearance in the Olympic Games in Rio. After finishing seventh in 2012, Stone took a year off from competition to complete her medical degree at Tufts University Medical School. Upon her return to the single, Stone won trials in 2014 and finished ninth at the World Rowing Championships. Stone came back in 2015 and had the best year of her career, finishing fourth at the world championships and winning bronze and silver in world cup competition. The U.S. last won an Olympics medal in the event in 2008, when Michelle Guerette brought home silver.
One of the most subscribed events at the Games, the women’s single will field 31 competitors including Karsten, reigning champion Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic and Australia’s Kim Brennan (nee Crow), who has not missed a podium since winning Olympic bronze at London. Brennan won world championship gold twice in this Olympic cycle – in 2013 and 2015. Her London bronze medal was the first Olympic medal ever won for Australia in this boat class.
New Zealand’s Emma Twigg will be also be in Rio. Twigg won her first world championship in 2010 and again in 2014. She took a year off from competition last year, but returned and qualified at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May. She will be looking to win New Zealand’s first ever-Olympic medal in the event.
Women’s Pair (W2-)
The U.S. came within a breath of medaling in the women’s pair at the 2012 Olympics and has had strong finishes in the event the last two years, taking bronze in 2015 and silver in 2014.
This year, a new crew emerged. Grace Luczak (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Felice Mueller (Cleveland, Ohio) won National Selection Regatta I in March. They then won the event at World Rowing Cup II and earned their nominations to the 2016 team.
Luczak and Mueller are no strangers to the pair. They won the event together at the 2011 World Rowing Under 23 Championships and set a world record. Luczak is a nine-time national team athlete and was in the four that won gold in 2015. Mueller is a seven-time national team athlete and was in the pair that won bronze in 2015.
Luczak and Mueller will have to row through 14 other crews to reach the top of the podium, where Great Britain’s Glover and Stanning stood in London. Australia, Germany, New Zealand and Romania are also entered. Romania has medaled in five of the 10 event finals since it was included with the inception of the women’s program in 1976.
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
Ellen Tomek (Flushing, Mich.) and Meghan O’Leary (Baton Rouge, La.) have represented the U.S. in the women’s double sculls at the last three world championships. They won bronze in 2013, finished sixth in 2014 and 11th in 2015.
Tomek is an eight-time national team athlete and a 2008 Olympian. She finished fifth in the event in Beijing. Tomek and O’Leary qualified the boat class at the 2015 World Rowing Championships and won trials in Sarasota, Fla., where they earned their place on the Olympic roster. The U.S. finished sixth in the event in 2012.
There are 13 countries entered in the event. Great Britain is the defending champion and 2012 finalists Australia, Poland, China and New Zealand will be competing.
Another crew to watch is Greece. Sofia Asoumanaki, who crushed the world indoor record by 13 seconds at C.R.A.S.H. – B Sprints in Boston in 2014 as a 17-year-old, and Aikaterini Nikolaidou were second at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, won the 2016 European Championships and were third at the second world cup in Lucerne this year.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
Rowing in their first Olympics are Kate Bertko (Oakland, Calif.) and Devery Karz (Park City, Utah). Bertko is a seven-time national team athlete and has won consecutive bronze medals in world championship competition in 2014 and 2015. Karz was in the boat that finished 11th in the event and qualified the boat class for Rio. Bertko and Karz won trials to earn their place on the 2016 team. The U.S. finished 11th in London.
The lightweight women’s double is also a heavily subscribed event with 20 countries entered. Defending champion Great Britain is entered as are 2012 finalists China, Denmark and Germany.
Romania has been the most dominant country in the event, winning in 1996, 2000 and 2004. They are back in the hunt this year after qualifying at the last-chance regatta in May.
Also entered after qualifying in Lucerne in May is Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis from The Netherlands. Head and Paulis won World Rowing Cup III ahead of the world champions from New Zealand. They also set a new World Best Time and World Cup Best Time of 6:47.69. At the European Rowing Championships, they won over a veteran field that featured reigning Olympic Champion from Great Britain, Katherine Copeland.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
The United States enters the 2016 Olympic Games as the defending world champion and London bronze medalists in this event. Returning to the crew that took bronze in 2012 are Adrienne Martelli (University Place, Wash.) and Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis.). Kalmoe also was part of the crew that won at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, a first-ever gold medal for the U.S. Tracy Eisser (Fair Lawn, N.J.) returns to the crew from 2015. Filling out the boat is Grace Latz (Jackson, Mich.), who was in the quad that won bronze in 2014 and in the four that won gold in 2015.
Germany set the standard in this boat class. It first medaled in Barcelona in 1992 and has not missed an Olympic podium since, winning a total of six medals, four of them gold.
There are seven crews entered including Germany and London finalists Australia, China and Ukraine.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
The U.S. enters the Games as the two-time defending Olympic champions, having won gold in 2008 and 2012. Preceding that, the U.S. won silver in 2004. In addition to the two Olympic gold medals, the U.S. has won a string of eight world championships (10 consecutive world and Olympic titles) and holds the world record (5:54.16) set in 2013 in Lucerne.
In its most recent competition, the U.S. won gold at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne.
The crew has a new blend of youth and veteran experience with three-time Olympian Logan, two-time Olympian Musnicki and eight-time national team athlete and five-time world champion in the event Polk.
First-time Olympians include coxswain Katelin Snyder (Detroit, Mich.), Amanda Elmore (West Lafayette, Ind.), Tessa Gobbo (Chesterfield, N.H.), Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.), Lauren Schmetterling (Moorestown, N.J.) and Kerry Simmonds (San Diego, Calif.).
The nine women in the U.S. eight have a combined 29 world championship and Olympic gold medals among them. There are seven boats entered including Canada, which finished second in London and has been chasing the U.S. through most of the last two cycles. Also entered are 2012 finalists Great Britain, The Netherlands and Romania.
Romania has won a total of eight Olympic medals in the event, three of them gold. The U.S., which has five – also three gold – stands to overtake Romania in that category if it wins a historic fourth gold medal.
Rowing at the 2016 Olympic Games begins August 6 and runs through August 13. For more information about important USRowing dates, #RowToRio, the 2016 Olympic Games selection process and Olympic athlete bios, visit www.usrowing.org. Support our team. Visit www.natrowing.org to find out how.
Name, Boat Position, Hometown, Club Affiliation
Women’s Single Sculls
Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass) Cambridge Boat Club *
Lightweight Men’s Four
Robin Prendes (s) (Miami, Fla.) USTC – Oklahoma City *
Tyler Nase (3) (Phoenixville, Pa.) USTC – Oklahoma City
Edward King (2) (Ironton, Mo.) USTC – Oklahoma City
Anthony Fahden (b) (Lafayette, Calif.) USTC – Oklahoma City *
Seth Weil (s) (Menlo Park, Calif.) USTC – Princeton
Henrik Rummel (3) (Pittsford, N.Y.) USTC – Princeton *
Matt Miller (2) (Springfield, Va.) USTC – Princeton
Charlie Cole (b) (New Canaan, Conn.) USTC – Princeton *
Women’s Quadruple Sculls
Adrienne Martelli (s) (University Place, Wash.) USTC – Princeton *
Grace Latz (3) (Jackson, Mich.) USTC – Princeton
Tracy Eisser (2) (Fair Lawn, N.J.) USTC – Princeton
Megan Kalmoe (b) (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) USTC – Princeton **
Sam Ojserkis (c) (Linwood, N.J.) USTC – Princeton
Austin Hack (8) (Old Lyme, Conn.) USTC – Princeton
Rob Munn (7) (Redmond, Wash.) USTC – Princeton
Mike DiSanto (6) (Boston, Mass.) USTC – Princeton
Steve Kasprzyk (5) (Cinnaminson, N.J.) USTC – Princeton *
Glenn Ochal (4) (Philadelphia, Pa.) USTC – Princeton *
Alex Karwoski (3) (Hollis, N.H.) USTC – Princeton
Hans Struzyna (2) (Kirkland, Wash.) USTC – Princeton
Sam Dommer (b) (Folsom, Calif.) USTC – Princeton
Katelin Snyder (c) (Detroit, Mich.) USTC – Princeton
Amanda Elmore (8) (West Lafayette, Ind.) USTC – Princeton
Eleanor Logan (7) (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) USTC – Princeton **
Meghan Musnicki (6) (Naples, N.Y.) USTC – Princeton *
Tessa Gobbo (5) (Chesterfield, N.H.) USTC – Princeton
Lauren Schmetterling (4) (Moorestown, N.J.) USTC – Princeton
Emily Regan (3) (Buffalo, N.Y.) USTC – Princeton
Kerry Simmonds (2) (San Diego, Calif.) USTC – Princeton
Amanda Polk (b) (Pittsburgh, Pa.) USTC – Princeton
* Indicates 2012 Olympian
** Indicates 2008 and 2012 Olympian
William Daly (Vail, Colo.) USTC – Oklahoma City **
Thomas Dethlefs (Lawrenceville, N.J.) USTC – Princeton
Olivia Coffey (Watkins Glen, N.Y.) USTC – Princeton
Victoria Opitz (Middleton, Wis.) USTC – Princeton
Cameron Kiosoglous, Lightweight Men’s Four
Laurel Korholz, Women’s Quadruple Sculls
Kris Korzeniowski, Men’s Pair
Lucas McGee, Men’s Eight
John Parker, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
Scott Roop, Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
Kevin Sauer, Women’s Double Sculls
Gregg Stone, Women’s Single Sculls
Thomas Terhaar, Women’s Eight, Women’s Pair
Bryan Volpenhein, Men’s Four
Jo Hannafin, Team Physician
Matthew Imes, Staff
Brett Johnson, Media
Curtis Jordan, Staff
Alicia Lamb, Team Physical Therapist
Deirdre McLoughlin, Team Physical Therapist
Glenn Merry, VIP
Ed Moran, Media
Marc Nowak, Team Physical Therapist
Erin O’Connell, VIP
Kendall Schmidt, Staff
Margaret Soutter, Staff
Michael Zimmer, Team Leader