Olympic Spotlight: Five Years On, Cole Set to Race in U.S. Four in London Olympics

Charlie Cole. (Photo: Allison Frederick/USRowing)
Charlie Cole. (Photo: Allison Frederick/USRowing)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale heavyweight alum Charlie Cole '07 has rowed in – and won – the oldest collegiate athletic competition in the U.S., the four-mile Yale-Harvard Regatta on the Thames River in New London, Conn.  He has also been a part of the winning crew in its British counterpart, the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race held on the Thames River in London, England.  He has competed in Junior, Under 23 and Senior World Championships, and medaled at World Cup Regattas.  But five years after graduating from Yale, Cole will soon finally be competing in the most highly regarded competition in rowing and athletics as a whole, the Olympic games.  Cole will be representing the U.S. in the men's coxless four.

In early June of this year it was announced that Cole made the crew.  The lineup for the U.S. men's four includes Cole (New Canaan, Conn.), Scott Gault (Piedmont, Calif.), Glenn Ochal (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Henrik Rummel (Pittsford, N.Y.).

Selection for the four was determined based on lineup evaluations, national selection regatta results (Cole and Ochal were the fastest pair at the 2012 NSR #1 in March) and training camp performance in Chula Vista, Calif., under U.S. men's coach Tim McLaren.

Cole will be in three-seat of the boat, with Gault in stroke, Ochal in bow and Rummel in two.

Gault is the veteran Olympian in the crew, having finished fifth in the men's quadruple sculls in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Gault and Cole made up half of the four that qualified the boat with a top-10 finish last year at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.  Cole, Gault, Giuseppe Lanzone (Annandale, Va.) and Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.) finished fourth in front of the Germans to punch their ticket for London.  Lanzone and Newlin are now boated in the U.S. eight that are also competing in London, having qualified in May at the 2012 FISA Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Cole is in his ninth year as a U.S. national team oarsman.  He competed on the junior national team for two years, then for three years on the U23 national team, rowing once in the quad and twice in the eight.  Since 2009 Cole has rowed in various crews on the senior national team, finishing fifth in the pair at Worlds in 2009 and sixth in the eight in 2010.  His best finish at the World Championships came last year in the four, where again the U.S. finished fourth to punch its ticket for London.

In 2008 Cole did not find his way on to the U.S. Team for the Beijing Olympics but had a very successful year nonetheless.  Cole rowed in seven-seat of the Oxford Blue Boat that won the 154th Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in March, and then in July he sat in two-seat of the U.S. eight that won gold at the 2008 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Brandenburg, Germany.  Rummel also won U23 gold in 2008 with Cole, rowing in front of him in four-seat of the U.S. eight.

This U.S. four will be something of an unknown coming into the Olympics as they have mostly been working at home this year.  The crew has opted to continue training in the States rather than race at any FISA World Cup regattas, where the results might well say that the GB four is the favorite.  Great Britain are the three-time reigning Olympic champions in the coxless four, and three-quarters of their lineup from Beijing are returning to defend their gold medal.   Two months ago at World Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland, GB set a world's best time in the heats and went on to win the final by a margin of just one second over the Australian coxless four.  Then in June at World Cup III the Brits lost to Australia but again only one second separated the two crews, and so the spot at the top of the podium in London is still very much up for grabs.

The 2012 Olympic Games will take place from July 27 to August 12, and the rowing events will be held on Dorney Lake about 25 miles west of London, England. London has played host to the Olympics twice before and will become the first city to host for a third time.  Racing at the 1908 and 1948 Olympics was held at Henley-on-Thames.

This year the U.S. has entered crews in 12 out of the 14 Olympic boat classes, and Cole is one of five former Bulldogs that will be competing at Dorney.  The other four are all women's rowers, with Ashley Brzozowicz '04 rowing in the Canadian eight, Tess Gerrand '10 rowing in the Australian eight, Jamie Redman '08 a spare for the U.S. team and Taylor Ritzel '10 rowing in the U.S. eight.

The heats of the men's four will take place the morning of Monday, July 30.  Each of the 13 crews in the event will look to place in the top three in their heat to advance directly to the semifinals on the morning of Thursday, August 2, or else race in the repechage on the morning of Tuesday, July 31.  Both A and B finals are scheduled for the morning of Saturday, August 4.

Cole and his mates will be going up against Greece, Italy and the Netherlands in the third of three heats on Monday at 11:00 a.m. London time.  The top three will advance to the A/B semifinals, with the fourth-place crew going to the rep.

NBC will provide a live stream for every sport at these London Games for a total of 3,500 hours of live video, and rowing is no exception.  In fact for the first time ever at a rowing event, a camera hung from a three-cable system strung between two steel towers at either end of the course will follow the racing from start to finish.  The cables run for 2,400 meters over the middle of the course and at their lowest allow the camera to drop down to a height of just eight meters above the rowers where it can isolate the faces of the athletes.  An all-access pass to the events at Dorney Lake is just as easy as verifying your cable, satellite or telephone account on nbcolympics.com.  For users signing in at the last minute, NBC has added in a feature where if technical difficulties arise, users can get a four-hour temporary pass to watch online content.  When the four hours are up, users will then have to complete the process of verification.  All video will be archived for on demand viewing after it happens live.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity