Everyone’s Thoughts on Rio

By Zack Astran – Posted on October 18, 2015

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are still over nine months out, but, as always in an Olympic year Head Of The Charles, the Games are never far from everyone’s thoughts.

Olympic training cycles generally mean a smaller international field in the October before the Games, and 2015 is no exception. For some, however, the peculiar demands of the Head Of The Charles fit perfectly into their long-term training for Rio.

Andrew Campbell, reigning course record holder in the champ singles, who hopes to make the U.S. Olympic lightweight doubles boat, is one of those rowers.

“Lately we have been doing a lot of work in singles just to change things up a little bit, so I entered the Charles as a part of that sculling period of time,” said Campbell.

The Charles River is also home water for the Harvard grad and Cambridge Boat Club member, and he’s not likely to miss it, Olympic training or not.

“The Head Of The Charles is such a fun regatta and it’s pretty low pressured compared to the international racing scene, so it’s fun to get out there in the single and see what I can do,” said Campbell.

“We are just coming off of a big racing season this past summer, so we took two weeks off in September and got back to it at the end of September, so this fits perfectly into my training,” said Campbell.

Dariush Agahi, an aspiring member of the United States men’s eight, sees the Head of the Charles as a nice interlude in the intense training he and his U.S. Rowing teammates are currently in the middle of.

“We are preparing a four, and eight, and a pair to go to the trials,” said Agahi. “Working hard in the fall and doing a lot of racing and by December we should have a smaller group to move out to California.

“Most of us still want to make it out to the Charles,” he said. “It’s like a reunion event and just having a good weekend.”

The center for that U.S. training is about to shift from Princeton to Sarasota, before moving to Chula Vista, California in January.

Much like Agahi and his U.S. Rowing teammates, six-time Head Of The Charles winner Gevvie Stone sees the Head of the Charles as more of an interlude in her training for Rio.

“It doesn’t really fit into my training for Rio, but it’s fun to peak, it’s fun to race,” said Stone. “I train on the Charles, so it’s not hard for me to get here physically. I wouldn’t miss this for anything, especially since it’s my home course.”

Stone, who won the B final and finished seventh overall at the 2012 London Olympics, and moved up to fourth in the 2015 World Championships in France last month, will be a strong contender for an Olympic medal as she heads into what might be her final Games.

“I’ve been training mostly around getting the volume in, getting the miles in,” said Stone.

Ed Hewitt, the publisher for Row 2k, is also looking ahead to Rio, and he is most interested in seeing what happens men’s singles with this year’s Head Of The Charles champ singles winner and the defending Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale.

“There’s a serious battle between Mahe and the Czech rower Ondrej Synek,” said Hewitt. “Those two have been going back and forth for quite some time now.”

As to the rest of the Rio rowing competition, Hewitt sees another potential gold for the U.S. women’s eight, and a likely struggle for the U.S. men.

“The United States women have not lost in the Olympics or world championships since 2006 and I would think they will continue to be the heavy favorite to take home gold again,” said Hewitt. “They have been dominant for so long.”

While the United States woman seem to be the clear-cut favorite to take home gold in Rio, the United States men’s team will have some much stiffer competition.

“The United States will have to qualify the men’s eight during the summer, and that will be a tough job in itself; meanwhile, Germany and Great Britain have shown themselves clearly to be the top crews,” said Hewitt.

As all of the Olympic hopefuls are winding down their fall training and moving into winter training, there is a common trend between all of these athletes. The road to Rio is not short, not easy, not smooth, but it’s the road every elite rower is happily traveling right now.






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