The US and Great Britain were side by side in the heat the other day, and were side by side again today – and nearly the very same race developed. In the semi, the US was closer for longer, so it is fair to assume the British crew adjusted a bit for the final – but the relative splits are pretty similar. The Brits fulfilled their position as the favorite down the track, shadowed closely by a game US crew as the two left most of the rest of the field behind.
I talked to Mike Gennaro as the crews came off the water.
We talked yesterday about the speed of the British boat, and today you went with them, pushed into them, and couldn't quite get by, but it seemed like it was pretty much what you were looking to do.
Absolutely. I mean, like I said the other day, they have incredible, incredible speed, and we hung with them for as long as we could. If you look at the results from last year, and then look at the results from this year, a lot of crews went down spots, and the US and the Brits went up spots. So we’re heading in the right direction to Rio.
What was that race like? It looked like it was pretty hot in there.
It was fun. Henrik said before the race he’s never been more prepared for a race, and it was like high school rowing all over again. It was just fun. We were smiling, we were screaming, it was just a blast.
Anything in particular that sticks out in your mind? That was yelled out, was called?
No, but I mean, Seth, Seth’s the fucking man. He’s up there laying down a rhythm and our job, it’s like 50/50; half is Seth's responsibility, and the other half is us to back him up. We can’t hang him out to dry for stepping on it too hard. He was stepping on it, and we were right behind him all the way down the track. It was just fun. Very old school."
After I talked to Mike, almost on cue but entirely without hearing what Gennaro had said, Seth Weil put the shoe on the other foot about 30 seconds later.
“I was thinking, ‘there is no way I’m going to get nipped again like we did in Korea,’ and honestly, at that point in the race, I know that Grant, Henrik and Mike are the muscle on this project, and I’m going to be just fine if I can give them a rhythm that they can tee off on," he said.
That is rowing for you; true and inescapable teamwork is one of the beauties of our sport.
I asked Henrik Rummel his thoughts on the crew's preparation based on Gennaro's comment, especially given all the traffic, bounce, winds, and heavy conditions the past week or so.
"You always feel ready for the big races, but I really feel like we did our best rowing in the last week and a half," Rummel said. "I still don’t really feel like we’ve put a whole, perfect piece together, but it was a really good piece.
"I do try to remind myself before every race that I’ve done more training than the last race, and I’m always more prepared. It's a talking myself up thing. But for this week, we found out that what works for our boat is to segment everything into parts, and then attack that part. So we really have our whole 2k planned out, and we kind of feel like we hit the checkpoints, so we work on each part of the race. So, in our practice, we’ve started to do that. We’ll have an objective going out, and say, 'Today we’re working on this,' and we work on it. It’s been working really well for us."
The medal ceremony folks swept Grant James away before we could talk; sorry Grant, you get dibs at the next big one.
After the race, Mike Gennaro gave his flowers to one of the local kids; so not to leave out her friend, he went back to the boat to get his shirt, and gave it to the other little girl. Mike made a LOT of fans with that gesture; "what an incredibly nice man" and similar comments bounced around the crowd in the aftermath. Check out the photos starting here.