Windsor, England — In a sense, McLean Olympic rower Giuseppe Lanzone was a decorated athlete before Wednesday morning. For the second straight Summer Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected him to model its Ralph Lauren Team USA outfits. He’s represented by a modeling agency. People Magazine named him one of its 12 hottest male Olympic athletes. Shape magazine put him in its 20 sexiest.
The seven men who compete with him in Team USA’s prestigious eight-man boat — most of whom majored in engineering — have given him plenty of grief about his non-rowing portfolio and the various hunk rolls on which he inevitably lands as the Olympic Games approach.
“He’s on a lot of lists,” teammate Jake Cornelius said, smiling, Wednesday afternoon.
Then Cornelius turned serious.
“The bummer is,” he said, “we aren’t on the one list we wanted to be on, which is in the medals.”
Indeed, in an excruciatingly tight Olympic men’s eight final earlier that day, Lanzone and his teammates on the U.S. men’s eight — including Potomac native David Banks — finished in fourth place, missing a bronze medal by just 0.3 of a second. Lanzone, wearing his Team USA gear and dark sunglasses, left the rowing venue grim-faced, without the one item he thought would really look good on him.
“It feels horrible,” said Lanzone, a graduate of McLean High. “It’s painful. Whether you come close or not, we didn’t get a medal.”
Said Banks, a Churchill graduate. “It’s just tough. There aren’t too many words. I’m just sort of speechless.”
The nail-biting final came shortly after Britain earned its first gold medal of these Games, and another U.S. team came through on Dorney Lake. Helen Glover and Heather Stanning led from start to finish in the women’s pair as the home crowd roared, finishing in 7 minutes 27.13 seconds and topping Australia by 4.1 seconds.
In the next race, the U.S. team of Natalie Dell, Kara Kohler, Megan Kalmoe and Adrienne Martelli won the bronze in the women’s quadruple sculls, claiming the first-ever Olympic medal in the event for the United States.
The triumph left the entire squad crying with joy.
“We had the gutsiest, hardest, most aggressive race we’ve ever had,” Kalmoe said. “It took me a minute to get sight and consciousness back after that last stretch. It was everything I had. . . . To have it finally culminate here in a medal, it was a huge relief.”
For the men in the eight boat, disappointment reigned. Fifth with 500 meters remaining, they came on with a fury, passing the Dutch, who ended up fifth, .24 back. They covered the last 500 more than two seconds faster than the third-place Brits, but they ran out of water. The three-time world champion Germany got the gold in 5:46.75, ahead of Canada (5:49.98) and the British (5:51.18).
“They gave 100 percent effort,” said Mike Teti, the U.S. team coach. “They were out of the race. They got back in it, and then they fought really hard to get a medal — almost . . . I’ve never seen [a race] with six boats within a length of each other, and I’ve seen a few of them.”
When the U.S. rowers realized they had fallen short, that they had ended the U.S. streak of consecutive Olympic medals in the event at two, the rowers slumped over in their seats, exhausted and crushed.
“We came in here with one thing in mind, and we didn’t achieve that,” said Lanzone. “It’s definitely hard . . . [but] we did everything we can do.”
Lanzone and Banks also teamed up at the 2008 Summer Games in the quadruple sculls event. That year, they finished ninth. “It’s really tough to come away with nothing,” Banks said.
Lanzone, who has been training at the U.S. Olympic Committee training center in Chula Vista, Calif., said he will head back to Annandale, where his family and fiancee reside. Perhaps, he said, he would seek a job as a rowing coach.
Banks, a Stanford graduate, has been training in Princeton, N.J. His family lives in Potomac. Banks shook his head when asked whether he would pursue another Olympic Games.
“Gotta lotta bills and loans to pay,” he said. “They all stack up. It’s time to take care of some of that stuff.”
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