PRINCETON, N.J. – Oksana Masters and Glenn Ochal have been named USRowing's 2012 Female and Male Athletes of the Year, respectively, the organization announced on Wednesday. The athletes and coaches of the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic squads selected this year's USRowing Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Masters and Ochal will be honored on Nov. 14 at the second annual Golden Oars Awards Dinner presented by One Equity Partners in New York City.
Masters, a first-time national team member and first-time Paralympian from Louisville, Ky., won bronze in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London earlier this month with partner Rob Jones, a now retired U.S. Marine injured in combat. She is the first adaptive rower to be honored as USRowing Athlete of the Year since the award’s inception in 1985.
“I am shocked and honored,” said Masters, 23. “There are so many amazing athletes out there. This is such an honor. My Paralympic experience in London was amazing and I was sad to see it end. I was proud to be part of the Paralympics and part of Team USA. It was an indescribable feeling – everything I have ever dreamed of and more.”
Masters came to the United States from the Ukraine at the age of seven and began rowing at the Louisville Adaptive Rowing Club in 2002. She and teammate Rob Jones won the trunk and arms mixed double sculls at the 2012 Non-Qualified Paralympic Trials, and then at the 2012 Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta prior to winning bronze in London.
Philadelphia-native Glenn Ochal also competed in London this summer for the U.S. team at the 2012 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the men’s four along with teammates Scott Gault, Charlie Cole and Henrik Rummel. The bronze medal in the event was the first for the U.S. since 1992.
“It’s an honor to be named Athlete of the Year, especially by your peers,” said Ochal, a Princeton University graduate and seven-time national team member. “It’s an honor to know that they think of you that way. It’s an individual award, but I think all the guys worked hard and we all worked together.
“There were some really good performances out there this year, and hopefully we can build upon those performances next year and the next Olympics. Three of the four guys from the four that medaled are coming back, and I’m one of those. I think there is a positive outlook for the future and we’re all excited.”