New U.S. Olympic Team Has Old Crimson Crew
Livingston, Hobbs, Raymond, Terry, Holfman, Hobbs, Livingston.
If you think the newly-chosen 1972 U.S. Olympic crew seems oddly similar to the one that went to Mexico City four years ago, you're entirely correct.
After paring a group of 400 aspirants to 16 after several months of exhaustive ergometer tests and seat races. Harvard and Olympic coach Harry Parker and a battery of assistants found that the new, more scientific methods of selecting Olympic eight and four-oared boats produced the same results as the old methods.
No fewer than seven of the 14 1968 Olympians will be going to Munich next month, and six of them rowed for Harvard's varsity at one time or another. Which seems to indicate that Harvard has had the best oarsmen in the nation all along, just as it did in 1968, when the Crimson varsity edged Pennsylvania in a showdown at Long Beach to earn a ticket to Mexico. Or that Parker, who has been varsity coach at Cambridge for a decade, is biased in favor of his own followers, which is what a few rival coaches are muttering.
The first possibility appears to be more valid. The majority of hopefuls who were ultimately rejected by Parker at the Hanover, N.H. training camp felt they had been treated fairly, and praised Parker's impartiality.
Bent Backwards to be Fair
In fact, several of the Harvard oarsmen thought that Parker had bent over backwards to avoid favoring them in the selection process.
"At times," said former Crimson lightweight Monk Terry, who'll stroke the eight, "it seemed as though Harry was really out to get us."
"Really, though, it wouldn't have been practical for Harry to resort to nepotism," says one prominent Eastern freshman coach. "His reputation, as well as the concept of a national team, will be at stake this summer. It just wouldn't make sense for him to ignore a star oarsman from another club or college in favor of his own men. He's interested in putting together the fastest boat possible. If he has to use six Harvard men to do to, that's a tribute to the kind of a coaching job he's done at Cambridge."
Actually, the Olympic roster is rather heavily studded with East Coast oarsmen--Chad Rudolph and Chuck Ruthford, who will not row in the eight, are the only men from West of the Mississippi River. Both rowed for Washington, a poreanial national rowing power.
The eight-oared shell itself is colored 67 per cent Crimson. Brothers Mike '71 and Cleve '69 Livingston will row at bow and 2, Frits '69 and Bill '71 Hobbs are at 5 and 6, Terry, a 175-pound metronome will stroke, and Paul Hoffman '69, who enraged stolid U.S. Olympic officials with his support of the black athlete protest in 1968, will be coxswain. Two other Harvard oarsmen, lightweight stroke Tony Brooks and heavyweight captain Dave Sawyier, will go to Munich either as members of the four-with-cox or as spares.
That leaves only three non-Harvard athletes in the eight--Pennsylvania captain Gene Clapp at No. 4, Pete Raymond, Princeton '68 at 3, and Wisconsin's Tim Mickelson in the 7 seat. It's an experienced boat, seasoned by international competition. Each of them has represented the U.S. in eight-oared shells at either the Olympic, World or Pan American championships during the past four years.
An experienced crew should be a poised crew, and poise is an indispensable asset to have when New Zealand is starting to go by on your starboard side and the East Germans are sprinting over to port.
An illness-weakened U.S. crew finished last in the finals at Mexico City and poor American showings in subsequent international regattas brought about the idea of a truly "national" crew, composed of the cream of college and club oarsmen, similar to the boats that European nations haave used with success in the recent past.
It is a gamble, to be sure, and if the U. S. entry doesn't win a medal at Munich there will be criticism of this new concept and of Parker's selection of oarsmen. The first test will come later this month, when the crew goes to Lucerne. Switzerland for a regatta that will include some of Europe's best eights. A victory there could presage a medal at Munich, and vindication for Parker. Harvard's alumni Olympians and a novel concept in American rowing