Army's Smith, Navy's Nuzum in Olympics Rowing Finale
By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service
SCHINIAS, Greece, Aug. 19, 2004 Army Capt. Matt Smith finished sixth in his lightweight four rowing semifinal Aug. 19 and will row in the B final for places seven through 12 Aug. 21 in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, Navy Ensign Henry Nuzum of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Aquil Abdullah of Washington, D.C., also will row Aug. 21 in the A final of men's double sculls.
"We are in the medal round now and anything can happen," Abdullah said. "I'm just thankful to have a partner like Henry who can lay it down in the last 500 and take us through. We get better throughout the regatta."
Smith teamed with Cincinnati's Pat Todd, Paul Teti of Upper Darby, Pa., and Steve Warner of Livonia, Mich., to finish sixth in their heat with a time of 6 minutes, 1.84 seconds at Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre.
"Not exactly where we planned to be but we've still got another race to regroup for on Saturday afternoon," said Smith, 23, an infantry officer from Woodbridge, Va. "We'll try to get better between now and then and do a better job."
Italy's quartet of Lorenzo Bertini, Catello Amarante, Salvatore Amitrano and Bruno Mascarenhas won the heat with a time of 5:55.02. Australia's Glen Loftus, Anthony Edwards, Ben Cureton and Simon Burgess finished second in 5:55.22, followed by Canada's Iain Brambell, Jonathan Mandick, Gavin Hassett and Jon Beare in 5:57.44.
Boats from Austria and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines finished in fourth and fifth places, respectively, with times of 5:58.73 and 6:00.07.
"The top three that came out of our semifinal were the top three in Lucerne [Switzerland], which was the last World Cup race in July a good precursor for the Olympics," said Smith, a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program. "In the other semi, you had last year's World Championship gold medalists and silver medalists. There's no way to cut it; it's a tough event just like everything in the Olympics. You're just always trying to elevate your game."
In the second semifinal, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland advanced to the A final.
"We can still come out of here with seventh," said Smith, who in two days will face boats from Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, Russia and Spain. "We'll just get some motivation going and try to give the Army some justice and the Armed Forces and everybody overseas some justice."
The American quartet fell nearly four seconds off the lead pace in the first 500 meters and played catch-up for the remaining 1,500 meters.
"We felt like if we were in contact with people that we could definitely have a great last 1,500 like we usually have, but everybody did some great racing," Smith said. "That's what happens when you've got 10 out of 13 boats that are potential medalists in your event. Every race is a race for your life."
Two-time Olympian Teti echoed that sentiment. "We just didn't have quite as much kick today," he said. "We tried to put ourselves in the position where if someone made a mistake we were able to capitalize on it, but nobody made any mistakes."
(Tim Hipps is assigned to the Army Community and Family Support Center Public Affairs Office.)