WEST WINDSOR, N.J., May 23, 2004 . Conal Groom of Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center (www.pocockrowing.org) won the third and decisive final of the men's single sculls at the U's. Olympic Rowing Trials Sunday morning on Lake Mercer near Princeton, N.J. Both winners of the men's and women's single sculls at the U's. Olympic Rowing Trials are from Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center.
Groom raced neck-and-neck with Adam Holland of the Harvard University Boat Club the entire way down the 2,000-meter course until Groom pulled out the victory in the final few strokes. At the 1,000 meter mark Groom, a Georgetown University graduate, had opened up a one-deck lead on Holland, but by 500 meters to go the lead had dropped to six inches and by the 250 meter mark Holland owned a six-inch lead and was sprinting early. Groom captured victory in 7:09.65, while Holland stopped just before the line in exhaustion. Defeated, the Harvard University graduate drifted across the finish line 10.36 seconds behind Groom. After dropping Friday's first final by .25 seconds to Holland, Groom had rebounded Saturday to edge Holland by .24 seconds and force a third and decisive race between the two Olympians.
"I was relieved, and exhausted," said Groom, a 2000 Olympian as a lightweight sculler. "The body of this race was much closer than the other races. This has been a test of physical, technical and mental capacity . now I need to gain more speed."
Sunday's win secures a berth for Groom and the United States in the men's single sculls competition at the Olympic Qualification Regatta, June 13 . 16 in Lucerne, Switzerland . the final phase of Olympic Games qualification for countries that have not yet qualified for the Olympic Games in certain boat classes. Groom will need to finish among the top three in Lucerne to make the Olympic Games.
"The tightness of this racing is just a glimpse of how difficult Lucerne will be to qualify," added Groom who hopes to be the first rower in U's. history to compete in consecutive Olympic Games as a lightweight and open weight rower. .It will come down to smaller margins then one-quarter of a second . very difficult."
On Saturday, Jennifer Devine, also of Seattle's Pocock Rowing Center, swept her best-of-three women's single finals to earn a trip to Lucerne and a chance to represent the United States at the Olympic Games. Devine finished ninth in the women's double sculls at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and finished seventh as the US women's single sculler at the 2001 World Championships.