June 26, 2012
SEATTLE - Although he'd admittedly prefer a different path to the Olympics, Ty Otto is bound for London with the USRowing team as a spare.
Otto, who graduated from Washington in 2011 and was a member of the National Championship-winning boat that year, was recently informed of the decision by USRowing coaches. Although he will compete only because of an injury/illness, Otto will still have the Olympic experience, valuable currency going forward in his development.
The invitation came after Otto missed out on two chances to make the Olympics as a competitor. First, he was one of the final cut from the US men's eight at selection. He regrouped and teamed with Syracuse alum Mike Gennaro to row in a pair, with the goal of winning the senior trials and the coveted ticket to London. But Gennaro and Otto finished second at Lake Mercer, just missing out on the Olympics.
The path to this accomplishment is no small feat. Otto said it was a grind right from the start. He went into the selection camp for the men's eight with one expectation - winning a gold medal in London in August.
But Otto's coaches recognized his hard work and it paid off with the invitation to be a spare.
"It's bittersweet to not go over as a competitor," said Otto, who captained the Huskies in 2011. "It will be an awesome experience that will helpful in my future rowing career."
Otto's experience is similar to that of men's coach Michael Callahan, who traveled to Athens as a spare in 2004 before taking a full-time assistant position at Washington.
Nevertheless, Otto was thankful to experience the rigors of selection with the USA national team.
"From day one everyone was on the same page," Otto said. "There was a sense that the country had not lived up to expectations at Bled [World Championships]. Right from the start the intensity was at a high level, but when it got tough, you had to stay relaxed and keep your eyes on the prize."