Olympic bronze medalistGlennOchal’08 will be rowing for the U.S. men’s eights boat at the summer Olympic Games in Rio this year. The Daily Princetonian sat down with the University’s former lightweight crew coach to discuss rowing, his time at the University and his expectations for Rio.
Daily Princetonian:What is your favorite thing about rowing?
I really enjoy the racing. I really enjoy lining up against another crew and racing for a trophy or medal. Racing for my high school and college was fantastic. Representing a school, wearing the colors …all in an effort to get a win against your peers. I think its really special.
DP:If you could have one superpower to take to the boat, what superpower would you like to have?
Ah … well, the easy one would be teleportation, because you could just put yourself on the finish line first. I think that’d be pretty fun and would definitely throw your competition for a loop.
DP:And what’s the craziest thought you’ve ever had during a race?
GO:Let me see … well, in London, when we were racing—I think there were 500 meters to go—and I knew that we definitely weren’t in first or second place because I knew that there were two boats ahead of us. I looked up with 500 meters to go, and I saw the fourth place boat coming at us hard, and I just thought, “We’ve got 50 strokes here. Let’s try to get first or second, but at the least we’re going to finish third. Let’s get to this finish line." In the qualification for Rio, our coxswain did a really good job on keeping our mind on what we were doing. He goes, “Alright, we’ve got to get to Rio. For you, for your family; this is everything we’ve got. We got to go. You’ve got two minutes to get to the Olympics.” He gave us the motivation to give it everything we’ve got. So I thought that was pretty cool. We were all saying, “Yeah man, we gotta get to the Olympics.”DP:
What is the one thing you miss the most about the Princeton boathouse?
Well, the National Team trains in Princeton, so I’m actually at the boathouse everyday. But the most unique part of the Princeton boathouse is the dynamic between all four teams, the heavyweight men, the lightweight men, the openweight women and the lightweight women. There were like 160 of us, and we all practiced at the same time everyday, often practicing with each other. More so, all the rowers were friends, eating meals together, studying together and socializing together. It was a lot of fun.
DP:If you could pick up any one thing from the London Olympic Village and put it in the Rio Olympic Village, what would that be?
Well, the one thing I hope is going to be there in the dining hall is this one big McDonald’s. There’s this gigantic McDonald’s in the dining facility that I think will be at Rio. So that’s what I would take, so I can eat unlimited McDonald’s for a week after competing. That was my favorite part of London outside of the racing part – to eat as many chicken nuggets as I wanted, with no repercussions.
DP:What was your most challenging moment from your rowing and Princeton careers?
The most challenging moment of my rowing career was the final Olympic qualification regatta in May … if we placed in the top 2, we were going to the Olympics. If not, my rowing career was over. It’s pretty cutthroat, very black and white.
DP:And what was your favorite moment?
GO:My favorite moment is racing in London. However, ideally, Rio tops it with a gold medal! At Princeton, my sophomore year was lots of fun. We had a really strong team winning a lot of races—we even got second at the National Championship. The overall experience was special because we had a solid group of guys who worked very hard to put it together.DP:
And finally, what is the one thing you’re most looking forward to at Rio?
GO:I’m most looking forward to lining up and racing for the U.S. at the highest level of the sport. In rowing, to even qualify a boat is a significantchallenge … and now that we cleared that hurdle, we are going to give everything to win a gold medal. And that’s the fun part ... working with eight other guys and a coach to simply try and out-row the best guys from other countries. I can't ask for anything more.