Julian Venonsky, Liam Corrigan, John Harrity, Nicholas Mead, Alexander Richards, Austin Hack, Daniel Miklasevich, Justin Best and Benjamin Davison compete in the men's eight Heat 1 during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — Going in to the eight days of competition, the 37-member U.S. rowing team had high hopes for medal moments. But the podium reality for all of the athletes would have them leaving the host city with their podium outfits still in the bags — marking the first time since 1908 that the United States has not brought home an Olympic medal in rowing.
While many of Team USA’s nine boats made a valiant effort, earning a spot in the finals at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay, two-time Olympian Gevvie Stone posted that one of the saddest parts about her double sculls race was carrying her podium outfit back from her race still in the bag. As a competitor in an A final, you have to “bring them to the venue, just in case,” wrote the 36-year-old who finished in fifth with first-time Olympian Kristi Wagner.
Now, with the meters in the water behind them and only the miles in the air left to go, U.S. Rowing is leaving Japan still feeling proud.
“It’s just good to be reminded of how cool this is and to have a good time at the Olympics in competition,” said Madeleine Wanamaker, who raced in the women’s four and finished seventh overall. “I’m just proud of us.”
Here is a breakdown of the five boats and nine crews that competed in Tokyo.
In one of the U.S.’s best hopes for a rowing medal, the men’s four — which consisted of returning Olympian Anders Weiss along with Clark Dean, Michael Grady and Andrew Reed — were off to a good start, finishing behind Australia in their heat, advancing to the finals. A podium finish would have been the first time the U.S. medaled in the event since their bronze medal in 2012. But when Australia outpaced them once again in the finals, so did three other teams, leaving the U.S. to finish in fifth — more than six seconds behind the Aussies.
“I think that we worked really hard,” Reed said. “We train hard; we work well together. I think we’ve made big, big strides coming together as a unit. … I’m really proud of the racing we did to get to this point.”
After eight days of rowing, the curtain dropped with the men’s eight medal final. The team is comprised of mostly first-time Olympians, with Austin Hack as the only returning rower from Rio where the team ended up in fourth. Like the women, the men have a long history of dominating in this event, which has been on pause since 2004 when they won their last gold.
The team in Tokyo consisted of coxswain Julian Venonsky, Liam Corrigan, Conor Harrity, Nick Mead, Alexander Richards, Hack, Alex Miklasevich, Justin Best and Ben Davison. Battling the defending world champion in multiple heats, Germany edged them out in the finals coming in second with New Zealand taking gold and Great Britain the bronze. The U.S. men couldn’t harness the power over the 2,000 meters, finishing just off the podium in fourth, seconds off the winning time of 5:24.64. “We just try to stay internal and row our race,” Venonsky said before the medal match. “And like Justin said, we’re just really excited to be in an Olympic final, to be fighting for medals."