OLYMPICS | Fourth Eli punches ticket to London

With less than two months to go before the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics the number of Bulldogs headed to the Games is going up. Earlier this week, Charlie Cole ’07 became the fourth Bulldog named to a 2012 Olympic roster.

On Monday, US Rowing announced that Cole will represent Team USA in the men’s four boat at the Games. Australian rower Tess Gerrand ’10, as well as American sailors Stu McNay ’05 and Sarah Lihan ’10 will also join Cole in London. With roster announcements scheduled in the forthcoming weeks, additional Elis may make Olympic teams in sports including crew, swimming and track.

“These athletes are wonderful examples, and their passion is inspiring,” Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said of the Bulldog Olympians.

McNay and Lihan qualified in December after competing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia. McNay, who also represented the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, will compete this summer as a skipper in the men’s 470 class. Lihan will compete as crew in the women’s 470.

Head sailing coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said Yale sailing’s rich history of Olympians has long inspired Elis to compete at the Olympic level.

“We have had a sailor in every Olympics but one since 1984,” Leonard said. “Having that history has helped us to attract some of the top young sailors in the country and in the world, and it is motivating for the kids on the team.”

The International Sailing Federation ranks Lihan’s dingy at No. 3 in the world and McNay’s at No. 5.

Before Lihan and McNay set sail outside London in early August, Bulldogs will be on the water for the Olympic rowing competition. Cole’s Olympic run begins in late July when he will row in the same boat as two former Ivy League foes, Glenn Ochal of Princeton and Henrik Rummel of Harvard. The fourth man in the boat will be Scott Gault, who rowed with Cole at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Slovenia where they placed fourth and qualified the men’s four boat for the Olympic Games.

“We have been training in this combination for a little while, but to be named to the Olympic team is a huge honor and one we are very excited about,” Cole said in a Monday USRowing Press Release.

Cole will not be the only Eli on the water when the rowing competition begins on Dorney Lake outside London. Gerrand, who was named to the Australian Olympic team in late May, will compete in the women’s eight.

More Bulldog rowers may join Cole and Gerrand when roster announcements are made later this month. Ashley Brzozowicz ’04, who rowed in the 2008 Olympics, is currently on the national team roster for Canada. Jamie Redman ’08 and Taylor Ritzel ’10 are training to make the American women’s eight boat.

While at Yale, Gerrand, Ritzel and Redman rowed together in the women’s eight crew that won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2007 and 2008. Gerrand said she is excited by the potential of racing against her former teammates on the Olympic stage.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Gerrand said. “There are three podium medals out there. Hopefully we can keep them all within Yale.”

Bulldogs could also be named to Olympic rosters following the track and swimming Olympic Trials. Kate Grace ‘11 will compete for a Team USA roster spot in the 800m and 1500m runs at the Eugene, Oregon track trials, scheduled for June 21-July 1.

Six swimmers from the men’s and women’s teams – including Hayes Hyde ’12, who qualified in the 200-meter butterfly race — posted impressive marks throughout the year to qualify for the June 25-July 2 US swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I am really just honored to be participating,” Hyde said. “While there really isn’t much of a chance of me making the team, the opportunity to compete at the second highest level of swimming is really exciting.”

Five Bulldogs represented four countries and won two silver medals and a bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games are scheduled for July 27.

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