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Vol. LXII, No. 32
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
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(Photo courtesy of USRowing)

BACK ON BOARD: Former Princeton University rowing star Paul Teti will be competing in his third Summer Olympics next week in Beijing. The 2002 Princeton University graduate was chosen for the U.S. men’s four. Teti, a vice president with Normandy Real Estate Partners, had taken a three-year hiatus from international rowing after helping the U.S. lightweight four to a ninth place finish at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Former PU Rower Teti Caps Comeback With Third Trip to Summer Olympics

Bill Alden

As far as Paul Teti was concerned, his international rowing career concluded with his appearance on the U.S. lightweight four which finished ninth in the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Focusing on his job on the acquisitions team of Normandy Real Estate Partners upon his return from Athens, Teti confined his rowing to occasional domestic races.

But last year, the former Princeton University standout got the Olympic bug.

“About 12 months ago, I started rowing again; I started training with David Banks after he had been cut from the national team,” said Teti, who also competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, helping the U.S. lightweight four to a sixth-place finish.

“We decided to train together. It was helpful for him technically because I had spent a lot more time in small boats. For me, it was helpful because physiologically, he’s incredible.”

Those sessions with Banks proved incredibly helpful as Teti punched his ticket to a third Olympics, getting named to the U.S. four which will compete in the upcoming Beijing Summer Games.

In reflecting on getting another crack at the Olympics, Teti, 31, marvels at his good fortune.

“I think the first word that comes to mind is lucky; lucky to be healthy; lucky to have landed on a boat with some really solid athletes,” said Teti, whose older brother, Mike, will also be in Beijing as the U.S. men’s head coach. “I am trying to make the best of it, I’m excited to have been able to get back to this spot.

As he gets ready for the Olympic rowing competition, which takes place from August 9-17, Teti is drawing on the experience he gained from competing in Sydney and Athens.

“I think training wise; I have tried to pay attention to things that have been pitfalls for me in the past,” said the 6’0, 160-pound Teti.

“You learn along the way; I think the more times you have been there, the less grand it seems and you are able to dumb it down and focus on what you do best. In my first Olympics, I was a junior at Princeton and I was a little awestruck. Whereas I think now I realize what a great opportunity it is. I’d like to make the most of it, it’s probably my last one.”

It was a chat with one of his former coaches at Princeton, Curtis Jordan, that helped sharpen Teti’s focus in his drive for another Olympic spot.

“I was here in Princeton and the rest of the team had gone down to Clemson, South Carolina,” said Teti.

“David and I were doing relatively well in the pairs and the coaches wanted us to come down. My first call was to Curtis, I said ‘can you meet me at Small World, I need to ask your advice.’ So we sit down and I say to Curtis, ‘three months ago I didn’t have these aspirations but now I feel there is a chance we might be able to make it, what do you think?’ He coached me through the process, telling me how to handle myself coming back. He is certainly one of the people that fueled my comeback.”

Teti’s experience at Princeton helped fuel his development into an Olympian.

“Everyone there that I came into contact with had some impact on my life, academically and athletically,” asserted Teti, who helped the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity eight win the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship in 1998 and place second two other seasons.

“The professors were great; my coaches were incredible. I had an extremely, extremely positive experience and frankly part of it was how supportive they were of the rowing.”

The support of older brother, Mike, an Olympic rowing medalist who was the Princeton men’s heavyweight freshman coach during Teti’s college career, was also a key.

“When I first started he was very hands off with regard to my rowing, he told me to focus on as many sports as I could and to have fun,” said Teti, noting that the family has seven sisters between him and his older brother.

“Once I got to Princeton, it was a little different, he applied a little bit more pressure. Prior to that, his feeling was that there was very little benefit to me feeling extra pressure. He told me to go hard, whether you are rowing, playing football or basketball, whatever. He felt rowing is a sport you can continue to develop, there was no rush.”

Older brother Mike is proud of how Teti has developed. “He’s my brother but he’s a good rower,” said Coach Teti, 51, who has been with the U.S. national program since 1996.

“People sometimes make a big deal of us being brothers. I would say just talk to his teammates on the four; he adds a lot to that boat. He makes good calls, he has good skills, he’s a good racer, he’s a good team guy.”

The younger Teti is surprised by how quickly his boat became a force.

“This four sort of materialized in the course of normal selection,” explained Teti, who will be joined on the boat by workout partner Banks together with Brett Newlin and Giuseppe Lanzone.

“The coaches decided to send us over to a world cup race in Lucerne, Switzerland and we were fortunate enough to win the bronze medal. We had rowed some pretty fast times and so we came back and went through another series of tests. This four emerged as what we thought was our best shot.”

Now, the boat’s focus is to make up for lost time in taking its best shot at a medal in Beijing.

“Prior to Lucerne, we had only spent literally a few days together,” added Teti.

“We feel like this time together is really going to help us. I think we have a lot of natural chemistry. The competition over there is severe; especially in this event. Most of these European crews don’t have hundreds of athletes to draw from so they have got their group of four that has been together for two or three years. That’s what we are trying to work on.”

And having Teti back on board after a few years off should help the U.S. team come together.

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