DeKALB – They might not have won a medal, but DeKalb native Olympians Grant and Ross James walked away from London 2012 with an experience of a lifetime.
“It was quite the unique experience,” Ross James said. “It was an awesome way for both of us to go share something together, we’ve been training together for a long time, and go represent the United States to the best of our ability.”
The 25-year-old James twins competed in men’s rowing for Team USA at the Olympic Games in London. The twins and their team made it to the medal round for men’s eight, but they finished in fourth in 5:51.48, three-tenths of a second behind Great Britain. Germany and Canada came in first and second place, respectively.
Grant James said it was an honor simply to line up for the event.
“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Grant James said. “We left our best strokes on the water. That’s what a race is.”
Now, the twins are doing a sort of homecoming tour before they return to California for training.
On Thursday, the six-foot, five-inch-tall twins towered over children as they and their parents swarmed around them outside Jefferson Elementary School, which they once attended.
The twins handed out autographed pictures of their team rowing, while their mother, Cindy Warren-James, a teacher at Jefferson, looked on.
Warren-James said until the
London Games, she hadn’t seen her sons since Christmas, but she added that they communicated regularly and she knew they were busy training.
“It was nice to see them, when we finally got to see them, because it had been awhile,” Warren-James said.
Today, the James twins will be two of the honorary captains at the high school football game between DeKalb and Sycamore. Ross James said at some point, they plan to visit their alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, before heading to Washington, D.C. for a White House visit. He said he didn’t know if he would be meeting President Barack Obama.
Instead of staying at the Olympic Village in London, the James twins stayed at their own village for rowers. All of the rowing events occurred at Dorney Lake, which is located near Windsor Castle.
The lake is 25 miles west of London, so it didn’t make sense for Warren-James to get lodging in London. Instead, she stayed in Slough, located outside of London, with her brother and his wife.
Warren-James described her experience at the Olympics as being very positive, noting that she was always surrounded by the friends and families of other athletes who were experiencing the same emotions as her.
“That was nice, to see other families who have their children ... in this level of competition,” Warren-James said. “It didn’t matter where you’re coming from – around the world. ... You don’t find a big monster group like that, where you have that common bond.”
London might not be their only chance for Olympic gold either. Ross James said they plan to continue rowing, with their eyes on Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.