This summer, six Yale heavyweight crew alumni helped their countries clinch a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Former Bulldogs Tom Dethlefs ’12, Simon Keenan ’15, Stephan Riemekasten ’17, Ollie Wynne-Griffith ’17, Sholto Carnegie ’18 and Paul Jacquot ’18 represented five countries at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, held in Ottensheim, Austria, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. The six rowers represented The United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, while Wynne-Griffith and Carnegie each suited up for the Union Jack.
“Anyone at the pinnacle of an activity they’re in has a very strong ambition to be the best at what they do,” head coach Stephen Gladstone said. “[Rowers also] have the capacity to work with others, because that is the nature of our sport. You have to have a developed faith in your buddies and in the training process.”
Yale alumni were everywhere at this year’s 2019 World Rowing Championship. In the coxless four, Carnegie manned the stroke for Great Britain, when he led the British bunch to the bronze. The chaps were just under two seconds behind the Polish gold medalists and were only three-tenths of a second after the Romanian silver-place finishers.
Also competing in the coxless four were Jacquot and Dethlefs. Both former team captains at Yale, each helped their countries of Switzerland and The U.S, respectively, slide into the top-eight finishers in their event. Dethlefs managed the two-seat for the Yankees, as the U.S. national coxless four snagged a fifth overall finish in their contest. Jacquot and the Swiss rowers settled for eighth place in the race; the top eight crews secured a spot for their nations to row in the corresponding event at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Carnegie and Jacquot were each members of the 2018 class of Yale heavyweight rowers who led the Elis to the first two IRA National Championships in the current three-year streak.
“During the last few years, the Yale heavyweight crew has won the national championship, they’ve won the Eastern Sprints Regional Championship, they’ve beaten Harvard in the four-mile race,” Gladstone said. “All these men have been part of the Yale team that achieved that level of success.”
Wynne-Griffith and Keenan represented the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively, in the eight man coxed boat. The Brit operated the sixth seat in the bronze medal boat, which finished less than half a second ahead of the fourth place crew. That fourth place was the Australian 8+ shell, where Keenan manned the fourth seat. Like the four man coxless, the top eight finishing squads secured a slot in next summer’s Olympics. Riemekasten, who was a senior along with Wynne-Griffith on the 2017 Yale team that clinched the school its first IRA National Championship, served as a reserve rower for the German team, who also snagged a slot at the Olympics in 2020.
“Since I will be partially enrolled in a medical school very soon and also have my little one-and-a-half-year-old at home, Yale really helped me learn to deal with a tight schedule, to enjoy my free time but also use my time effectively,” Riemekasten said.
“Yale, with its crew program, is in the unique situation of being a top school in terms of academics, while also having a rowing program that wins national titles” Riemekasten said. “There would have been no better place to learn how to study and row on a high level than Yale, even though I am currently investing more in sports and less in my academic career. Here in Germany, or even other European countries, there is nothing comparable to that.”
For the upcoming Olympics, the Netherlands and Great Britain have been leading the charge in terms of qualifications, each securing 10 boat classes. Italy and New Zealand follow in the ranks with nine qualified boats, followed by the United States and Australia. Overall, 20 countries have qualified for 2020, with further qualification opportunities scheduled in the lead-up to the games.
Next year’s Summer Olympics will kick off on July 24 in Tokyo, Japan.
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