Pittsford's Rummel advances, has work to do in Rio

Joe Rexrode, USA TODAY NETWORK Published Aug. 8, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – Henrik Rummel arrived in London with wide eyes and relaxed expectations, just 24 years old and thrilled to win a bronze medal as part of the U.S. rowing men’s four team.

Now he’s a 28-year-old father whose men’s four team came to Rio fully expecting to medal. The Olympic novelty has faded and turned to normalcy.

“In London I was new, young, green-eyed,” said Rummel, of Pittsford. “And now it’s like, I’ve been here before. It feels like another race, it feels like any other competition. Like worlds more, coming back to worlds.”

When Rummel’s team comes back to Lagoa Stadium on Wednesday for the semifinals, it knows it must bring more with it – some kind of a spark. Though Monday’s performance in the second of three heats was enough to advance to the semis, it was a disappointment for all involved.

The U.S. team had a time of 5:58.31, third in its heat – five-hundredths of a second behind second-place Canada – and seventh overall.

Henrik Rummel, Matthew Miller, Charles Cole and Seth Weil of United States in action during Men's Four Repechage 2 on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Lagoa Stadium on Aug. 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo: Paul Gilham, Getty Images)

“We just need to bring a little bit more passion, you know?” Rummel said. “Really race it, get out there and race the crews around us. You know, we saw something similar in 2014 (worlds), we had a mediocre heat, we barely advanced through, just out of the rep and then we really turned it on for the semis, so we’ve been there before. We know we can do it and we know that these crews demand that we row our best to advance and to medal.

 “Every race at the Olympics, we’re racing for our lives, and this is no different. Maybe we go a fraction better (Monday) and we all the sudden feel better about ourselves. But the truth is, we’ve got to beat these crews if we want to medal, and that’s our goal here. So we’ve just got to get it done.”

Said teammate Charlie Cole: “Sometimes in a heat you can be a little flat or a little off. So I think now that we’re into the racing, we’re just gonna try and be sharper and try and be a little more competitive. The goal is to be able to produce (efficiency) when you need it. We didn’t today. I think it’s only as magical as you let it be.”

Henrik Rummel and Matthew Miller and Charles Cole and Seth Weil of the United States compete in the men's four heats at Lagoa Stadium during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. 

And this team, veteran and motivated to match or improve London’s showing, believes the magic is in there somewhere.

“We know what we’re capable of,” Rummel said. “We know we’re capable of better rowing – better, faster, more together rowing. But that’s the incredible thing about rowing. It’s not always a zero-sum game. Sometimes you click a little better, you get a little more together and you just find speed. It doesn’t have to appear out of nowhere, we just have to row well together, row as a crew a little better and that can be all we need.

“We’re really gonna try to come together the next few days and really try to have a better top-to-bottom piece.”