Courtesy of NBC Sports

Hortelano-Roig '14 finished first place in his first heat, recording a better time than Usain Bolt.

August 21, 2016

Cornellians Face Tough Competition in Rio

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As the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro come to a close, none of the six Cornellians reached the podium. However, the games were an exciting few weeks for these alumni and student compete for their respective countries.

Alex Karwoski ’12

Karwoski was the Cornellian closest to medal in Brazil — finishing in fourth place in the coxed eight event. Karwoski represented the United States, rowing alongside seven other Americans.

Despite failing to qualify in the first round, Karwoski and Team USA squeezed into the final race after winning the Repechage on August 10.

The boat had a solid start in the final race, but USA began to fell behind and was eventually inched out by the bronze medalist the Netherlands by about three seconds, crushing Karwoski and Team USA’s chance at a medal. On the whole it was a strong showing for the boat after a rough start in Rio.

Cornell rowing added Karwoski to the heavyweight staff last week.

Team USA's coxed eight, second from right, finished in fourth in the final race.

Courtesy of NBC Sports

Team USA’s coxed eight, second from right, finished in fourth in the final race.

Karwoski was not the only Cornellian making noise on the water. Eisser raced in the quadruple sculls final, finishing in fifth place.

While Team USA has only medaled twice in the 40-year-old event, the team did regress a bit from its third place finish in London 2012.

Like Karwoski’s boat, Eisser’s boat failed to qualify for the final following the initial race. A strong showing in the Repechage helped Eisser into the final, but the eventual medalists proved too much for Team USA, and the Americans missed the podium by eight seconds.

When she rowed for the Red, Eisser earned second-team All-Ivy Honors, while also placing 11th in the 2012 Women’s Rowing National Cham­pionship.

Eisser '12 finished in 5th place in the quadruple sculls final.

Courtesy Cornell Athletics

Eisser ’12 finished in 5th place in the quadruple sculls final.

Tracy Eisser ’12

Bruno Hortelano-Roig ’14

As Cornellians rowed their way to the finish on the water, Hortelano-Roig had his eyes on the finish line on land. After initially qualifying to compete in both the 100 meter and the 200 meter, Hortelano-Roig decided to only focus on the 200.

Hortelano-Roig took first in his heat with a personal best time of 20.12. That time would prove to be the second best among all 80 sprinters in the first round of heats, better than two-time defending champion Usain Bolt.

However, Hortelano-Roig would not find the same magic again. The Spaniard missed his chance to compete in the finals of the 200 meter dash by a mere .06 seconds.

Hortelano-Roig ran the race in 20.16 seconds, placing him 10th overall in the semifinals while only the top eight advance. Bolt would go on to take first, capturing his second of three gold medals he would win at the games.

The runner holds Cornell records in the 200 and 400 outdoors, as well as the 60, 200, 300 and 400 indoors. Hortelano-Roig won five individual Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and was named an All-American in the 200.

Rudy Winkler ’17

The Red even had one of its current athletes going for gold in Brazil. Winkler represented Team USA in the men’s hammer throw competition. Winkler, a student in the College of Engineering, won the US Olympic Trials for the hammer throw, and currently holds Cornell’s all-time record.

After throwing two of three throws into the netting, he failed to qualify for the final round. His one throw that did not hit the netting went 71.89 meters — a few meters shy of having a chance to medal.

Winkler '17 was able to put himself on the board, but could not qualify for the medal round.

Courtesy Cornell Athletics

Winkler ’17 was able to put himself on the board, but could not qualify for the medal round.

The hammer thrower has been dominant in his event while competing for the Red. Winkler holds multiple Ivy League titles and was named an All-American, and even tossed the second longest throw in the NCAA last season.

Winkler will be returning to Cornell this fall and will hope to bring more success to head coach Adrian Durant’s team. Durant, like Winkler, also was in Rio during these 2016 games, but for other reasons.

Adrian Durant

Durant coached the track and field team for the U.S. Virgin Islands, from which he hails. The coach actually competed for the Virgin Islands in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Durant unfortunately did not see any of the U.S. Virgin Islands athletes medal.

The second-year coach did have the privilege of coaching of a Cornellian, but one who competed before Durant’s time with the Red.

Muhammad Halim ’08

Halim competed in the men’s triple jump event at Rio 2016 for the U.S. Virgin Islands under the current Cornell coach — a connection of Cornell past and present.

Halim was not able to qualify for the medal round, putting up a score of no mark, following three foot faults.

During his four successful years for the Red, Halim was named an NCAA All-American four times and was crowned the NCAA Outdoor national champion in triple jump.

Stephen Mozia ’15

Mozia, who represented Nigeria in the men’s shot put event in Brazil, also competed in the track and field section of the games. The U.S.-born Nigerian launched the shot put 18.98 meters, ranking 28th overall in the event.

Mozia’s score was not sufficient to make it into the final round of the Olympic event, which is at a whole different level from the Ivy League. Back in his time at Cornell, Mozia was a two-time Ivy League Track and Field Athlete of the Year and broke a conference record in shot put in 2014.

Success did not come easy for the Cornellians in Rio — a substantial step up from Ivy League play. For these athletes, however, simply competing in the Olympics is an achievement in itself.