Yale rower helps New Zealand to Gold, Team USA, with two from Old Lyme, finishes fourth in Olympic men's eight

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Sam Bosworth, Matt Macdonald, Shaun Kirkham, Phillip Wilson, Daniel Williamson, Michael Brake, Tom Murray, Hamish Bond and Thomas Mackintosh of Team New Zealand celebrate winning the gold medal during the Men's Eight Final A on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Sam Bosworth, Matt Macdonald, Shaun Kirkham, Phillip Wilson, Daniel Williamson, Michael Brake, Tom Murray, Hamish Bond and Thomas Mackintosh of Team New Zealand celebrate winning the gold medal during the Men's Eight Final A on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Naomi Baker / Getty Images

For the first time in the history of Old Lyme, the small shoreline town was represented by two Olympic athletes in the same year and in the same event.

Austin Hack and Liam Corrigan, both born and raised in the shoreline town of about 7,000 people, helped lead Team USA to a fourth-place finish Thursday night in five minutes and 26.75 seconds in the Olympic final of the men’s eight in Tokyo.

It was New Zealand, featuring current Yale rower Dan Williamson (’23), who won the gold in 5:24.64, followed by Germany with silver in 5:25.60, and Great Britain, featuring former Yale rowers Charlie Elwes (’19) and Ollie Wynne-Griffith (’17), with the bronze in 5:25.73.

“The race was so close. It was such a competitive race and really, it was anyone’s race,” Joan Corrigan, Liam’s mom, said following the race. “I think they [Team USA] rowed really well. Really proud for the effort they put out there. [We were] hoping for them to get some hardware, so disappointed. But proud of them.”

While New Zealand pretty much held the lead for the majority of the race, Team USA, in lane one, started the 2,000-meter race in a pack of boats all battling for the second-place position.

The U.S. reached both the 500 and 1,00-meter mark in fourth place as Germany began to pull away closer to New Zealand.

Soon after the 1,000-meter mark, New Zealand picked up speed and separated itself from the rest securing the gold. At the 1,500-meter mark Team USA was two seconds behind New Zealand.

Team USA began its final push around the last 200 meters in an attempt to pass Great Britain. Despite getting close to Great Britain’s position in third, the U.S. couldn’t keep the pace.

“I just wish it was a couple hundred meters longer, I think they might have been able to pull it off but it is what it is,” Brian Corrigan, Liam’s dad said following the race. “It was a good race overall and that’s what you like to see and the eight is always really close. So, fun race to watch, not a fun place to finish but still very proud of him.”

Thursday’s race was Hack’s second fourth-place finish with Team USA in the men’s eight after rowing for the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics. For Corrigan, Tokyo marked his Olympic debut and his first time competing with the U.S. national team.

“He’s looking forward to rowing at this international level for a while so this is a great start to his international senior career,” Brian said. “I’m sure he’ll be disappointed but I don’t think that will sway him or deter him from continuing his career.”

Team USA advanced to Thursday’s final after coming in third to New Zealand and Great Britain during Tuesday’s repechage in a time of 5:23.43. The U.S. finished second, behind Germany, in its opening heat of the men’s eight last week in 5:30.27.

Other than Williamson, Elwes and Wynne-Griffith, former Yale rower Simon Keenan (’15) helped lead Australia to a sixth-place finish in 5:36.23.

Also on Thursday, Kent School 2007 alumna Christine Roper led Team Canada to a gold medal in the women’s eight final with a first-place time of 5:59.13.

maggie.vanoni@hearstmediact.com