New Jersey

Philly Guys Rise Early to Push Men's 8 Rowing Team to Rio Olympics

'You can do it... in July in Princeton, but it’s that one day in August in Brazil that matters'

At 9 on Wednesday morning, Sam Ojserkis, Glenn Ochal, Steve Kasprzyk and the rest of the U.S. Men's Eight Rowing Team just finished practice in Princeton. New Jersey.

"We had practice from 7 to 9, and then we have it again at 5 tonight," Ochal told NBC10 as the team made final preps ahead of the Rio Olympics. "It’s actually been kind of easier, we have more time on our hands now than we usually do."

Ochal -- a Philly native -- stands 6-foot, 4-inches tall. Boat-mate Kasprzyk -- a Cinnaminson, New Jersey native -- stands 6-foot, 7-inches, while Ojserkis -- a Linwood, New Jersey native -- stands just 5-foot, 8-inches.

Ojserkis played almost every sport growing up, but says he was never a standout.

"I was a shrimp, I’m a small guy," Ojserkis said with a laugh.

But now, Ojserkis is calling the shots for the big guys in Rio. He’s the coxswain for the Men’s Eight Rowing Team competing in the Olympics. Ojserkis headed to Rio on Friday with his teammates including Princeton University’s Ochal and Drexel University’s Kasprzyk.

"I’m excited to represent myself and my family, but also my city," said Ochal, who win a bronze while rowing on the Men's Four in 2012. Kasprzyk,  also returns to the Olympics after a fourth place finish on the Men's Eight in London.

The three, along with the other five boat members, have spent years preparing for Rio. In the days before the Games they looked to put in the final work and recovery time needed to medal in Rio.

"Practice, practice, practice," Ojserkis said, with Ochal adding in that they do eat, sleep, and recover in between practices.

The men have one goal: gold.

"You don’t grow up hoping to win a bronze medal," Ojserkis said. “You grow up wanting to win the whole thing.”

Ochal agrees, saying the team needs to put all of their energy and focus into just that one day in Rio.

"You can do it on a Tuesday in July in Princeton, but it’s that one day in August in Brazil that matters," he said.

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