Team USA Olympic Rower Nick LaCava reports on his boat’s come-back after a disappointing early performance, and how great it feels to have tens of thousands of fans cheering on the sidelines.
After being in England for almost two weeks now, racing has finally begun! The first day of rowing at the Olympics started on Saturday. We were in a five boat heat with Denmark, South Africa, Switzerland, and Italy. The top three boats in our heat advanced directly to the semi-finals while the rest would go to a repechage, a second chance race. Unfortunately we didn’t have our best row and finished fifth. We were very disappointed in our performance, but we knew we had a chance to make it up on Sunday in the repechage.
The next day’s racing featured Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Only the top three crews would advance to the semi-final, the last place crew would be done racing. We had a much better performance and finished first, advancing for racing on Tuesday. There will be two semi-finals on Tuesday, each featuring six crews. Only the top three crews will advance from each semi-final to go on to the A final on Thursday. The rest will race in the B final on the same day.
Although I was disappointed in the result of our first race at the Olympics, the experience was still exhilarating. There are around 30,000 spectators at the rowing venue. Most are packed into seats in the last quarter of the race, but there is also standing room all the way to the 1,000 meter mark (halfway through the race.) I’ve never competed in front of so many people, and the roar of the crowd is deafening in the final stages of the race.
The rest of the American team has done well so far. Both the women’s and men’s eight advanced from their heat to the final, and the men’s heavyweight four and pair have also advanced to the semi-final. Each day the crowds seem to get larger and I suspect by all the finals it’s going to be a very raucous atmosphere. Right now my boat is just focused on our race on Tuesday and hopefully we’ll have a performance similar to our Sunday race.