Jake Cornelius (Emmanuel 2006)
Update: in the Men's Eight final that saw fellow alumnus Tom Ransley win Bronze as part of
the GB crew (5:51:18), the US Men's Eight, in which Jake was rowing, were a short way behind
the podium positions in 4th place (5:51:48).
Jake Cornelius has been selected to row in the USA's Men's Eight at the London 2012
Olympic Games. You can find Jake's official athlete profile on the US Rowing website here
Engineering for Sustainable Development
Hoping to qualify for:
Key piece of equipment: “The oar handle,
because it’s my one connection to the water”
“I was 15 when I took up rowing. Cascadilla Boat Club is just outside my hometown of Ithaca, New York, and both Cornell University and Ithaca College had boats, so I saw them out on the water all the time. My aunt enjoyed rowing in college, and she thought I would be good at it.
My first taste of the sport came at a local festival in February 1999. Cornell’s rowers brought some ergometers along. I tried one and thought: ‘This is really good.’ When you’re 15 and good at something, you feel good about yourself, so that experience really stuck with me. It's the reason why I enjoy assisting with similar events in the community now.
I spent four years at Stanford and then went to Cambridge largely to row, as well as being keen on the engineering programme. I knew Cambridge had a great rowing club. It also has a very different culture around the sport. Rowing has a much higher profile than in the United States, which I found very exciting, and the calibre of athletes was excellent, allowing me to train with Olympic gold medallists such as Kieran West. I have friends at Cambridge to this day, and fellow alumni including Silas Stafford and Ryan Monaghan are also on the United States Olympic Team.
With rowing, it’s very much the case that you get out what you put in. Part of becoming a better rower therefore involves finding out how to put more into it. Not in terms of the amount of time you might spend on the rowing machine in the morning, but the sheer level of mental focus you can achieve, which is much higher than when I was 21 or 22. It’s something you build, layer by layer, so I feel as if I’ve always been preparing for the Olympics, from when I was 15 to my time at Cambridge.
I’m really looking forward to getting a performance out of myself, and my team mates, that validates the work we’ve been putting in. We’re certainly heading in the right direction. If you win at the end of the journey, it means every loss had a meaning. There’s the feeling of crossing the finish line when the race is over and it doesn’t hurt any more; then it sets in over weeks, and indeed years for the major wins, and becomes a bigger part of who you are.”