“Let’s just say that Sam makes his bed every morning, and I don’t,” said Lanzone. “But when it comes to rowing, I know no matter what, Sam is going to put his heart out there and row as hard as he can.”
Tim McLaren, an Australian Olympian who took over as the national men’s team coach after Beijing, said Lanzone and Stitt wouldn’t be in California if they weren’t seen as legitimate contenders for a spot in an Olympic boat.
Lanzone, Stitt and the rest of the Olympic prospects will attend a series of selection regattas in March and April 2012, and the members of boats with four rowers or more will be named about 30 days before the London Games. The local rowers already are at an advantage, having been named to the national team’s “Big Boat Selection Camp” that runs from the middle of November through June 2012.
“Their backgrounds are solid, having been on the national team last year and at the Olympics. But they’ve got things they need to improve on,” said McLaren. “It’s nice to have some experienced guys who can add value to some of the younger guys, but at the same time, they’re going to have to work their butts off.”
Both rowers are happy to discuss their chances, and are eager to get back to the Olympic stage and try to atone for disappointing Beijing results. But they have their own ways of dealing with the question. Lanzone said his mother, Gisella, knows not to ask, because all she’ll get in return is an “I don’t know,” a tactic he uses to avoid complacency. Stitt is happy to say his chances are good.
“Confidence is a good thing, and anyone you ask who says they have a good chance of going has the right mindset,” he said. “I’ve committed three or four years this go-round, and it’s going to be tough, but I think I have a pretty good shot.”
Regardless of what happens, the two kids from McLean value the experiences that have come with competing at the Olympic level — and that includes modeling for Ralph Lauren (Lanzone) and interacting with the Winklevoss twins, of “The Social Network” fame.
Each rower knows he couldn’t have made it without support from coaches, parents and mentors in the D.C. area.
“I got real lucky,” said Stitt, who said he was pointed in the Olympic direction by his coaches at the Potomac Boat Club during his post-college years. “They say every blind squirrel finds a nut, and I just happened to land in a field of them.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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