ETON DORNEY, England – With a podium finish at the London Olympics on Saturday, Charlie Cole '07 has become the first Yale heavyweight rower to medal at the Olympics since 1996. Rowing in three-seat in the U.S. men's four, Cole and his crew raced well all week, winning their heat and semifinal, and will now bring home a bronze medal from Dorney Lake.
The four was the last men's rowing medal event of these Olympic games, and the stakes were high as many countries chose to prioritize the four this year. Great Britain were the three-time defending Olympic champions coming into today, and between the eight rowers in the Australian and British fours who took silver and gold, respectively, four had won gold in this event at the Olympics before.
Australia and Great Britain indeed had some points to prove between them, with GB setting a World Best Time at World Cup II in May and Australia setting an Olympic Best Time on Monday when they won their heat.
Inclement weather early on Saturday meant the lanes would be reassigned to account for a crosswind on the course. The U.S. found themselves in good standing having won their semifinal on Thursday, and so they were given Lane 5 with GB on their left in Lane 6 and Australia on their right in Lane 4. Greece, silver medalists from last year's World Championships, were in Lane 3.
Right from the start the British crew asserted themselves, coming through the 500-meter mark in 1:27.86. Australia was second with 1:28.20, and the U.S. in striking distance with a time of 1:29.97.
Coming into the halfway point the separation between all six crews remained about the same. GB and Australia were dueling out front, with the U.S. in third. 1.41 seconds separated the U.S. from Greece in fourth, with about same margin back to the Netherlands in fifth and Germany in sixth.
The third 500 meters of the race belonged to the U.S. The Americans put up a 1:32.66, a time faster than both GB (1:33.01) and Australia (1:33.09). This move would put even more distance between Greece in fourth place and the U.S. in bronze medal position.
After keeping less than one second in front of Australia for the first 1500 meters, Great Britain hit the gas as they came through the grandstands and went on to finish in a time of 6:03.97, winning by a margin of 1.22 seconds over Australia (6:05.19).
The U.S. finished third in a time of 6:07.20 to capture the bronze medal.
Greece (6:11.43) finished fourth, the Netherlands (6:14.78) fifth and Germany (6:16.37) sixth.
Saturday's bronze medal was the best finish for the U.S. in the coxless four since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where Americans took home silver.
Cole's crew was the only one on the U.S. men's side to bring home an Olympic medal. One of three for the U.S. rowing contingent in London, the other two were a bronze in the women's quad and a gold in the women's eight. Those three medals put the U.S. in sixth in the medal count, with the home team Great Britain at the top with nine medals.
"Certainly I think people have to be excited about the work we've put in," said Cole in the press conference following the race. "We put in a lot of hard work since last year. We're young guys and we have a lot to look forward to and we'll have to think about and reflect on our performance and let the dust settle. But we have a lot to be confident about, and hopefully, a lot to look forward to in our rowing careers."
Cole is Yale's latest heavyweight rower to bring home a medal from the Olympics. The most recent before him was Brian Jamieson '91, who won silver in the men's quadruple sculls in Atlanta.
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity