Charlie Cole, U.S. rower, builds off past Olympic experience

From the moment Charlie Cole returned home from London in 2012, he had his eyes set four years into the future.

After earning the bronze medal as a member of the U.S. coxless four at the 2012 Olympics, the 30-year-old Cole and company look to become the first American foursome to win gold since 1904. He will reteam with 2012 teammate Henrik Rummel and join newcomers Seth Weil and Matt Miller for rowing events at the Rio Games this summer.

The 2011 U.S. Rowing Athlete of the Year has been everywhere. Born in Manhattan, Cole grew up in suburban Connecticut. Now, the two-time Olympian spends most of his time training at the U.S. Training Center in Princeton, New Jersey. He still calls midtown Manhattan home, residing with wife Catherine in the Big Apple since 2012.

“New York is home to some of the hardest working people on the planet,” Cole said. “Being in that environment, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw on. If you are in New York, you can’t help but want to work a little bit harder because everybody around you is working so hard.”

During his freshman year in high school, Cole discovered his passion while searching for a fall sport — the newly added rowing team. Racing was fun, despite the team’s subpar record. From there, Cole continued his athletic pursuits at both Yale and Oxford.

At the start of his Olympic journey in 2009, Cole took it one day at a time, unsure if he had the ability to make the team. The thought of racing in an Olympic final years away was overwhelming to the newcomer. With talent all around him after arriving on the scene, Cole said he did not have the luxury of thinking ahead.

The Olympic hopeful pushed through the intensity and stress of training, punching his ticket to London as he was selected to the four from that group.

“Getting through that year was the hardest thing I had ever done,” Cole, who mans the bow seat said.

This time around, Cole committed in fall 2012 to trying for another Olympic berth and was entirely focused. He knew what to expect after having been through an Olympic cycle once before. While he understands that preparation does not equal better results, the added experience is a bonus.

“The idea of getting back into position to race for an Olympic gold medal was always on my mind,” Cole said.