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Cornellians reach the finish line at Rio Olympic Games

Men rowing
Alex Karwoski ’12, third from left, rows for Team USA's men's eight in the 2016 Olympics.
women rowing
Tracy Eisser ’12, second from left, rows for Team USA's women’s quadruple sculls in the 2016 Olympics.

Even though the 2016 Olympic Games’ closing ceremony is still days away, the Cornell contingent concluded its participation Thursday morning.

Two former Big Red rowers and four track and field athletes, including one current student, were among more than 10,000 competitors representing 207 countries across 306 events in 28 sports at the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro.

Also joining the Big Red athletes was former Cornell men’s fencer Greg Massialas ’78, who coached the United States men’s foil squad, and current men’s track and field coach Adrian Durant, who coached the U.S. Virgin Islands team. Durant’s roster included former NCAA triple jump champion Muhammad Halim ’08.

Joining Halim in Rio was Nigerian shot putter Stephen Mozia ‘15, Spanish sprinter Bruno Hortelano-Roig ’14, Team USA hammer thrower Rudy Winkler ’17 and rowers Tracy Eisser ’12 (women’s quadruple sculls) and Alex Karwoski ’12 (men's eight).

Massialas had the most success at the games, helping the U.S. win a bronze medal by defeating Italy, 45-31. It was the first medal for the U.S. foil squad since the 1932 Olympic Games. Additionally, he coached his son, Alexander Massialas, to a silver medal in the individual competition.

At Lagoa Stadium, both Karwoski – who was recently named an assistant coach for the Big Red heavyweight rowing team – and Eisser finished just outside the medals in their respective races.

Rowing with the U.S. women’s quadruple sculls that won gold at the 2015 FISA World Rowing Championships, Eisser helped her crew finish fifth behind Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine.

Karwoski and the United States men’s eight came even closer to the podium, finishing fourth behind Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.

In Olympic Stadium, Hortelano-Roig opened his first day of racing by winning his heat in the 200-meter dash in a personal-best time of 20.12 seconds to advance. But he finished 10th overall in the semifinals with a time of 20.16, just .04 seconds away from a chance to run for a medal.

Winkler, who returns to the Big Red next season looking to improve on his national runner-up finish in the hammer throw, failed to move out of the qualification round but had a respectable 18th-place finish. Winkler faulted on his first and third throws, sending both into the safety net, but his second throw flew 71.89 meters (235 feet, 10¼ inches).

Mozia also failed to move out of the qualifying round after faulting on his first two attempts. His third throw placed him 28th overall with a distance of 18.98 meters (62-3¼), just less than five feet from the 12th and final qualifying spot.

Halim was the first Big Red track and field athlete to compete at the games, but he faulted on all three of his attempts and failed to qualify for the next round.

Julie Greco is associate director of Athletics Communications.

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John Carberry