NEW CANAAN, Conn. — New Canaan's Charlie Cole, who began his career with New Canaan Crew and the Maritime Rowing Club in Norwalk, will compete for the United States in the Men's 4- rowing team. He took a few moments away from training to answer five questions for TheDailyVoice.com.
What are your thoughts on making your first Olympic team?
We are very excited about the opportunity to race in London. I am pretty happy the coaches selected me to be in the crew.
When did you set as a goal for making the team? Has the process played out about how you anticipated it would?
After I had competed on the under-23 development team while in college, I began thinking seriously about rowing in the Olympics. Five years ago, that was a very long-term goal and a daunting one, too. Once I began training with the senior group in 2009, though, and doing well within the group, the goal became more concrete. It has been a four-year process, and the focus wasn't on the Olympics until this year.
As for the selection this year, it has been a gradual process. We started with a large group in the fall, maybe 30 athletes, and over time that was cut down until the coaches had the 8 and the 4. It was a long process, and I'm not sure anyone went in with clear expectations of how it would play out.
Maritime Rowing Club's Yan Vengerovskiy was a big influence early in your career. What did you learn from him that you still carry forward?
I was pretty lucky to be able to row for Yan when I started. He set achievable goals for us but made sure there was always a next step. He helped keep things in perspective. At the time I started rowing, another of his athletes, Dan Walsh, was rowing on the national team, was a spare in Athens, and rowed in the bronze medal 8 in Beijing. Yan didn't talk about it much, but it was clear that the goal was to work hard enough to make the national team, and it helped seeing Dan performing at a high level. If I were to sum it up, I would say that Yan made big things seem possible. Certainly the success of his program over time is indicative of his ability to be a really positive force on the development of young athletes.
It was pretty clear you had a chance to be named to the team, but it did not occur until early June. What was that process like?
It was a long process during which the coaches had to figure out who of the many athletes around in September would fill the seats in the 4 and 8. There were a few markers — we had a speed order race in pairs in the fall and a pairs trial in March. But really the process consisted of the coaches evaluating the athletes on a daily basis and slimming the group down over time.
When you march with the U.S. delegation at the Opening Ceremonies, what are some of the thoughts that will be going through your mind?
It's unlikely we will march in the Opening Ceremony. It's an eight-hour ordeal, and we have racing a few days later. That may change, but we do know we will be at the Closing Ceremonies. It will be a huge honor to be representing the U.S. and all of the rowing team's supporters in London. As probably any rower on the team would tell you, there are a lot of supporters who have helped us out along the way, from our high school and college coaches, to host families, to donors, to support staff ... so many people who are all part of the effort and without whom we wouldn't be in a position to perform.
For more information about Charlie Cole, visit his profile on the USRowing website.