SYDNEY-The U.S. men's quadruple sculls tasted bitter disappointment Friday as they narrowly missed advancing to the medal round in Olympic rowing.
Sean Hall, Nick Peterson, Ian McGowan and Jake Wetzel jumped off quickly, trailing only Italy at the 500-meter mark. They were third after 1,000 meters and steadily lost ground after that. The Netherlands and the Ukraine also qualified for the finals, joining Germany, Australia and Switzerland from the first semi-final heat.
The U.S. boat will race Saturday in the B finals to determine 7th-12th places.
"It's tough. It's heart-breaking," said Hall, who trains at the U.S. Rowing Training Center in Augusta. "Especially when we were in second. The toughest part is to see what happened in the heat before us. We had the fifth best time overall."
The top three boats in each semi-final race advance to the final.
Also Friday, the men's double sculls with Henry Nuzum and Mike Ferry finished second in the B finals, which means they finish in 8th place overall.
"It's not the grand final, but when you're out there you still want to come in first," said Nuzum. It was our best race we've had here, the most consistent. France just outsprinted us. We came up with our pace but it wasn't enough."
After the quads race at Penrith International Regatta Center, the Americans sat slumped over in their boat for several minutes.
"Nobody said a word," said Hall. "We were just trying to cope with the fact that we didn't achieve what we set out to achieve.
"This doesn't bode well for sculling."
Although U.S. sweeps boats have done well, the sculls have struggled a little. The women's doubles and quads have qualified for the medal races this weekend, but they will have to improve their times to win medals. All the sculls have made progress and moved up in world competition.
Hall, 33, looking tired and dejected after the race, talked about retiring. A nine-time national team member and three-time Olympian, he said he might be able to contribute more as a coach.
"The only reason I would keep doing this is to go back to the Olympics and get the medal I've been working for for eight years," said Hall as he peeled an ice pack from a pulled rib muscle. "Physically, it's going to get more difficult. If I don't have the physical ability I can explain it to a lot of people who are bigger and stronger.
"But with this quad we started something really good we haven't had in years. We have a lot of raw material to build on. The younger guys just need time and experience. They need to row the way Igor (Grinko, national sculling coach) wants them to. It will work."
The American quads won a bronze medal in the world cup stop in Vienna just before this year's Olympics.