Jul 29, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorBrett Newlin's eight-man United States boat locked up a spot for the Olympic rowing finals Saturday by winning its heat at the London games.
The Riverton High School graduate helped power the boat to a time of 5:30.72. Australia finished second in 5:32.43, Poland ended third at 5:35.64, and Ukraine crossed the finish line fourth 5:38.02.
The race was 2,000 meters (1.4 miles). The other three boats now have to compete on Monday for a chance at the finals.
The race was contested before nearly 30,000 rowing fans fans at Dorney Lake at Eton College.
"The first day of competition was today (Saturday) and the grandstands were packed," Newlin said. "Those folks who didn't have grandstand tickets were lined up all the way down the course watching the races. The Brits (and my family) are big rowing fans."
Other members of the United States eight-man boat are Jake Cornelius (Ithaca, N.Y.), Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.), Giuseppe Lanzone (McLean, Va), WIll Miller (Duxbury, Ma), Ross James, (DeKalb, Ill.), Grant James (DeKalb, Ill.) and David Banks (Bethesda, Md).
"We've got a good mix of experience, strength, and poise with this group of guys," Newlin said. "I rowed with Giuseppe and David Banks in the men's four in Beijing. The rest of the guys in the boat are first-time Olympians, and together we're firing on all cylinders."
The eight-man finals are for 10:30 a.m. (England time) Wednesday, 3:30 a.m. locally.
"It will take everything that we've got. and we plan to give it," Newlin said.
The 6-foot-9 225-pound Newlin lives in Chula, Vista, Calif., when he is not traveling for training or competition.
In the other heat Saturday, favored Germany clinched its spot in the finals at 5:25.52. Great Britain was second in 5:27.61, the Nertherlands placed third (5:28.99) and Canada ended fourth (5:37.91).
The Germans are unbeaten in three years in the eight-man competition. Canada is the defending Olympic champ.
"They are basically the class of the field," U.S. men's coach Mike Teti said of Germany. "I've seen them in practice, I have seen them on film. Now I saw them live in person. They are very, very good."
Newlin is riding in the stroke position in his boat for the Olympics.
"I cross the finish line last," Newlin said. "The responsibility of that seat is to set the rhythm.
I have to make sure that I set a pace that is easy to follow."
Newlin missed the Olympic Ceremony held on Friday night because of his race on Saturday.
"None of the rowers from team USA did" the parade of athletes, said Newlin about not going to the ceremonies.
"Our first race was the next morning.
We didn't want to jeopardise four years of training to stay up late and watch the show. I went to bed right about the time it started."
This is the second straight Olympics for Newlin. He rowed with the four-man crew in 2008.
That boat finished ninth.
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