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It has been four years since Harvard went to the Olympics as the United States crew representative, and while this year's Olympic squad will be chosen from the best individuals in the country, rather than from the best complete team, the U.S. squad could still have a distinctly Crimson tinge when the Olympics open in Munich.
Six Harvard varsity oarsmen from this Spring's heavy-and light-weight boats have been invited to participate in the Olympic training camp to be held June 9 July 1 in Hanover, N.H. Moreover, seven Harvard alumni who starred for the Crimson as undergraduates will also be vying for position. The thirteen-man contingent gives Harvard the single largest bloc of representatives of any college in the country.
In the past the U.S. team was chosen from a competition that matched complete boats rather than individual oarsmen. Consequently, when one boat proved its superiority in the Olympic trials, that boat was chosen as a unit to represent the U.S. However, poor showings in the Olympics in 1964 and 1968 have precipitated a change to the individual selection process.
International rowing powers like New Zealand and East Germany have long used the individual selection process, and Olympic (and Harvard) crew coach Harry Parker hopes that the new approach will buoy the United States's chances.
At Hanover there will be 40 rowers competing for 12 positions, as Parker will seek out the best individual oarsmen to make up one eight-man and one four-man boat.
Crimson oarsmen vying for Olympic positions include Tony Brooks. Dave Fellows, Gene LeBarre, Dave Mitchell and Dave Sawyier. Heavyweight coxswain Dave Weinberg will also be seeking a spot on the squad.
The appearance of Brooks, who stroked the lightweight varsity to its fifth consecutive undefeated season last spring, is a bit of a surprise. At 170 pounds he gives away size to everyone, and in the behemoth world of international rowing, that leaves him at a distinct disadvantage.
Despite the physical "handicap" of rowing in a higher weight class. Brooks has outstanding credentials. A three-time All-Ivy performer, he has never lost an intercollegiate race. Weaned on success in his rowing career at Harvard. Brooks has an insatiable desire to win, which makes him a strong candidate despite his size.
Fellows, sophomore number two oarsman on this year's heavy-weight varsity, is another relative newcomer to the rowing scene. Fellows is in his second year of rowing competitively, and at 6'3", 190 pounds, he has the potential to be outstanding. However, his relative inexperience will be an important factor in Hanover. It will be to his disadvantage that many of those at the camp will be four and five-year rowing veterans.
LeBarre, a two-year varsity veteran in the Harvard heavyweight program, seemingly has everything going for him--size, strength, and experience. LeBarre, a junior, stroked this year's varsity heavies and has been rowing since eighth grade. With that kind of experience behind him, he will be dealing from a strong deck at Hanover.
Mitchell, a senior and three-year varsity oarsman, is also well equipped, both in talent and experience. Last summer he rowed on the National Eight that competed in the Pan American games. Mitchell has been rowing for four years, and last fall, paired with Sawyier to sweep the pairs competition in the Head of the Charles.
Sawyier, captain of this year's heavyweight squad, has only been rowing since his sophomore year, but he has made a year-round occupation of it. For the last two summers he has remained in Cambridge to row. He has been rowing for three years straight, and has built up a reputation at Newell Boat House for his physical dedication. He is a two-year varsity letterman with both size and endurance going for him. Last summer he rowed with Mitchell on the National Eight team.
Weinberg will be battling ten other coxes for two positions on the Olympic team. Weinberg has been coxing for six years, and, as a sophomore, took over the varsity heavyweight boat this spring.
This sextet will be joined by an illustrious set of Harvard graduates seeking to represent the U.S. in Munich. The alumni will be headed by Fritz and Billy Hobbs, who represented the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics. Mike and Cleve Livingstone, Monk Terry, Paul Wilson and coxswain Paul Hoffman.
Parker figures the competition at the camp will be intense, and plans to center the selection process around seat-racing procedures. The 40 competitors will race in four-man boats to weed out the lesser oarsmen.
Initial cuts will come between June 15 and June 20. Final cuts will take place in July. After the final reduction, Parker will choose his boats. Then the squad will leave for Europe for some practice races before the Olympics in August.
"What we are looking for," Parker said yesterday, "is the fastest boat that we can possibly put together. The oarsmen who rowed for Harvard this year would be considered very good by almost any standards. However, it is impossible to predict how they will do or what will happen at the camp. They are going to be up against some really stiff competition."
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