By Armando Varela
LOS ANGELES – Peruvian-born rower Giuseppe Lanzone, who will represent the United States in the London Games, credits his childhood in a peninsular district of the city of Callao for putting him on an Olympic path.
The athlete said in an interview with Efe that growing up in La Punta, an upper-middle-class district of Peru’s main port city that is home mainly to descendants of Italian immigrants, marked his life by putting him in constant contact with the ocean.
“I grew up running in the waves, playing soccer and sailing with my family,” Lanzone said in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is preparing for his second Olympics with the rest of the U.S. men’s eight crew.
After moving with his family to Annandale, Virginia, at the age of 15, the six-foot, four-inch teen gave football a try but he had greater opportunities in rowing and was offered a scholarship in that sport by the University of Washington.
With great perseverance, a quality he says is essential for achieving results in his sport and in life in general, he was named to the U.S. Olympic team seven years ago.
Lanzone, national champion in 2009 and 2007 and silver medalist at the 2010 Rowing World Cup in Munich, said the Olympics are the most prestigious competition in his sport and therefore hold special significance.
“You can never prepare enough for the Olympic Games,” he said of his goal to improve upon his ninth-place finish in the men’s four event at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The competition for a medal, however, will be fierce due to strong teams in the men’s eight competition from Germany, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Poland.
Lanzone said he typically trains two and a half hours in the morning and also puts in further work on Monday and Wednesday afternoon as well as some additional practice hours daily, meaning he engages in some type of sporting activity seven days a week.
“This is more a lifestyle,” Lanzone, the U.S. rowing men’s athlete of the year in 2010, said.
He said he prefers to say little about the rowing competition at the London Games – which will take place from July 28 to Aug. 4 at Eton Dorney – and instead focus on the lessons he can learn in the “next practice.”
“We have the physical condition but we need to gain more speed and better rhythm, as well as sharpen up the start and finish,” Lanzone said of the improvements his team needs to make to compete for a gold.
While he has decided to represent the U.S. team due to lack of world-class rowers in his homeland, Giuseppe says he feels completely Peruvian and traces his competitive drive back to his family.
“My mother and a couple of uncles were good competitive sailors, finishing third in the world championships of their era,” the 29-year-old athlete said.
He said after his competitive rowing days are over his goal is to be a coach in that sport at the university level.
“I’ve learned a lot from very good coaches and now it’s my turn to teach those who are coming up,” Lanzone said.
The athlete said he carries with him the example of effort and hard work of his parents and his first coach, Jim Mitchell, who helped guide him during his high school and university years and has had the biggest impact on his rowing career.
“(Mitchell) always has given me a lot of support, not only as an athlete but also as a person,” Lanzone said. EFE