3 U.S. crews make Olympics
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The U.S. men's eight boat is Olympic-bound -- at last, and after a grueling, monthslong wait.
The boat was among three crews from the United States that secured their places at the London Games by winning races at the last-chance Olympic qualification regatta on Tuesday in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The eight faced most unusual circumstances this year, as this marked the first time in modern Olympic history the Americans had failed to qualify this boat in the world championships.
"We feel very fortunate and excited to have won the race," coxswain Zach Vlahos said in a text message. "France and New Zealand put up a great fight and we feel lucky to have come out on top. Now phase one is complete, it is time to get back to training and get faster."
Vlahos and the eight rowers he leads were named to the team April 30 in preparation for this final 2,000 meters and a berth in London.
The team trains out of the Bay Area, between the Oakland Estuary and nearby Orinda, and is coached by University of California coach and former Olympian Mike Teti. These athletes have been going through 11 workouts on the water each week.
The eight finished in 5 minutes, 36.11 seconds to beat runner-up New Zealand, which was 10 seconds behind.
France, the only other boat, placed third. U.S. Rowing CEO Glenn Merry said it is likely the Americans will at least initially continue to practice in the Bay Area until meeting up with the men's four for a training camp in Europe leading up to the Olympics.
The four has been a focus because of its strong medal hopes, while the eight will try to reach the podium again after this boat captured gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics and a bronze in Beijing four years ago.
Giuseppe Lanzone, the bow seat in the lineup, David Banks and Brett Newlin all were on the Beijing four-man boat that placed ninth.
Twins Grant and Ross James were determined to do their part this time after they were on that boat that missed during last year's world championships, while Steve Kasprzyk competed on the U.S. eight boat that won gold at last year's Pan American Games.
The women's double sculls and the lightweight men's four also won Tuesday on the Rotsee course in Lucerne to guarantee themselves spots at the Olympics.
Sarah Trowbridge and Margot Shumway dominated the finals of the double sculls to finish more than a second ahead of the Netherlands in 7 minutes, 3.96 seconds.
The lightweight four of Robin Prendes, Nick LaCava, Will Newell and Anthony Fahden came through the field in a time of 6.01.85.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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