WINDSOR, England – Three-tenths of a second.
That’s all that separated Ross and Grant James from bringing an Olympic bronze medal home to DeKalb.
The twins were part of the U.S. entry in the men’s eight final – the fastest race in rowing. The 2012 Olympic edition was one of the most exciting of all time, with all six boats finishing within about a length of one another.
Overwhelming favorite Germany took the gold in 5:48.75. Canada slipped past Great Britain in the last few hundred meters to snatch silver with a time of 5:49.98, while the British in 5:51.18 barely held off the hard-charging Americans. The U.S. clocked in at 5:51.48.
The brothers couldn’t hide their disappointment after the race.
“Our coach (Mike Teti) says there’s two kind of athletes that come here – ones that get medals and ones that don’t. And it’s just a world of difference between them,” said Ross, who along with his brother was part of the eight-man boat that won the 2008 national championship for Wisconsin.
“Everybody wants to do well,” he said. “Everyone wants to be on the podium. But it was a hard-fought race and I’m very proud of every single one of those guys in that boat.”
Grant echoed that sentiment.
“We’re all proud of each other,” said the 6-foot-5 DeKalb High School grad. “We fought hard. We were coming in fast and coming through the 500-meter (remaining) mark, we couldn’t hear anything. We couldn’t hear our coxen it was so loud. It’s just the situation. It’s a huge stage we’re on so it was interesting. We all just fought until we couldn’t fight anymore,” he said, his voice trailing off in disappointment, before adding that “everybody wants to establish at the beginning – that was not our fastest start, but we held it in and I’m proud of our guys for sticking with it and fighting all the way to the end.”
Teti, a coaching icon at the University of California, said he couldn’t ask for anything more from his crew.
“That was probably the closest eights final, at least in my memory,” he said. “I’ve never seen one that was six boats within a length of each other and I’ve been in a few of them. The field is tough and it’s competitive.”
He said it was a pleasure to coach the James brothers.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked," he said. "And they’re just good, respectful, wonderful kids. Hopefully, they’ll continue. Now they get a taste of it – fourth at the Olympics. It makes it a little bit hungry and three-tenths away from a medal, I think that they’ll be better in four years.”
Grant said they plan to be back in 2016.
“The plan is to keep rowing,” he said. “We still have young guys. We still have some time where we can develop and get better. I mean, we didn’t want to waste this opportunity but I feel like we’ll stick with it while we can.”
For now, it’s time to get over the loss and try to enjoy what remains of the games.
“We’ll stay around, we’ll cheer on our fellow athletes, try to get the Americans on the podium, whether we’re in the race or not,” he said, noting that they’ll stay at the rowing venue outside London for the next couple of days and then move into the main Athletes Village in the city. “Then we’ll enjoy the rest of our time here and watch some other events.”