Rower Alexander Richards, who hails from Watertown, will get his first taste of Olympic competition on Friday, Eastern time, a day earlier than originally scheduled.
Richards competes on the USA’s men’s eight team, and while he has had international experience, this will be his first time rowing in the Olympic Games.
The 25-year-old attended Belmont Hill School, and went on to Harvard. He currently trains in Oakland, Calif. Richards’ father Chris — also of Watertown — teaches and coaches the crew team at Belmont Hill. His son was among his rowers, and Alex called his father the most influential person in his athletic career, according to US Rowing. Chris was quoted in a recent WGBH story about the eight rowers from Massachusetts competing at the Olympics (the most of any state).
When he is not rowing, Alex runs Third String Clothing, a clothing embroidery business, and wants to become a physician, according to his bio from USRowing. He also loves to watch movies, is a bookwork and an appreciator of anime. Richards also likes hiking and cooking.
The Games begin a day earlier than expected for Richards and the US men’s eight boat. Monday’s weather forecast calls for high winds and gusts at the rowing venue — the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay. The winds are expected to create uneven and possibly unrowable conditions for the boats. Due to that, some of the races were moved up a day.
The heats for the men’s eight rowing competition will be held on Saturday, July 24 in Japan, which is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast, so Richards and Team USA will be competing at about 11 p.m. Eastern on Friday, July 23 (noon in Japan).
Seven boats will be split into two heats, and the winner of each heat will qualify for the final, to be held on July 29 at 9:25 p.m. Eastern. The other boats will go into the repechage with chance to qualify for the final. The repechage is scheduled for 9:48 p.m. Eastern on July 27. Joining the US in Heat 1 is Germany, Romania and Australia. Heat 2 includes New Zealand, the Netherlands and Great Britain. The rowing will be shown on NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA Network and other channels, as well as streaming online and on the Peacock app. The men’s eight final is scheduled to be shown on USA at 11:30 p.m. on July 29. See details about the rowing coverage here: https://www.nbcolympics.com/rowing.
Update: Team USA finished a close second to Germany in Heat 1. The boat led the race for about 1,500 of the 2,000 meters. The men’s eight will compete for a place in the final in the repechage on July 27.
The crew of the US men’s eight boat also includes coxswain Julian Venonsky (Malvern, Pa./University of California, Berkeley), Liam Corrigan (Old Lyme, Conn./Harvard University), Conor Harrity (Weston, Mass./Harvard University), Nick Mead (Strafford, Pa./Princeton University), Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn./Stanford University), Alex Miklasevich (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brown University), Justin Best (Kennett Square, Pa./Drexel University), and Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla./University of Washington).
Only one member of the crew, Hack, competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The rest make their Olympic debuts.
The boat qualified to go to Tokyo by finishing fifth at the World Rowing Championships in Austria in 2019. The Olympic team includes five rowers and the coxswain from the 2019 World Championships, where Germany, The Netherlands, and Great Britain won the medals. In Rio, Great Britain won the gold, Germany got silver, and The Netherlands took home bronze.
The US has a long history competing in the men’s eight rowing, dating back to the first modern Olympics in 1896. The last time Team USA won the gold was in 2004 in Athens.
The Olympics will be Richards’ sixth time representing his country. His top finish was a bronze at the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships. In 2019 he was part of the men’s eight boat that finished fifth at the World Rowing Championships, and the same year he was 11th with the four boat in the World Rowing Cup II. In 2018, Richards rowed with the four boat that placed 13th at the World Rowing Championships, and in 2017 he was on the boat that placed 10th in the same competition.
Before making his debut on USA’s senior team, Richards previously competed in the 2013 World Rowing Junior Championships, where he was sixth with the four-man boat. In 2017 he got fourth in the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in the two-man boat.