Byline: Associated Press/Janie McCauley
OAKLAND (AP) — From their early days in Cub Scouts together to the demanding journey of becoming Eagle Scouts, to their days as national champion shooters and, eventually, top-notch college rowers, each studying engineering, twins Grant and Ross James have always taken parallel paths in life.
Both knew that could end as they chased their Olympic dream. One might make it, while the other stayed home.
Then, Ross landed the last seat in the U.S. boat that captured the final spot in the eight-country Olympic field. They’re off to London as Olympic teammates — rowing in neighboring seats, to boot.
“We’ve had a lot of similar experiences,” said Ross, who is four minutes younger. “We’ve been doing a lot of things throughout our life together and we’ve accomplished a lot of things together, so it’s nice to continue that trend of being with your twin brother. I like to think of him like another teammate. It’s tough, because we won’t always be in the same boat or the same situations.”
The James twins came to rowing by chance, really.
Before college, a postcard arrived at their home, seeking athletes 6-foot-2 or taller to consider trying out for the crew team at Wisconsin. They figured, “why not?” They were 6-foot-5 and thought it might be a good activity and way to make friends that didn’t involve playing basketball.
“Our freshman year, we didn’t know anything about rowing,” Grant recalled. “We kept showing up every day and we’d win a few races. It felt good, and after that we got hooked.”
They also are two of six engineers among the nine athletes on the boat, a group that includes first-time Olympian coxswain Zach Vlahos.
“There’s a dynamic there,” teammate Jake Cornelius said. “It’s fun having them in the boat. It happens not infrequently in rowing. You bump into it more frequently than on a football team, just because of the nature of the sport. If you always have a built-in pair partner, you grow up doing that together.”
Except these two didn’t. They were busy trying out just about everything else along the way. Each captured 2006 national titles in high power rifle marksmanship — and shooting is something they plan to do again one day, once they’re no longer rowing.
“First, he’s a teammate, and at the same time he’s my twin brother, so there’s a little higher level of connection there — so, that makes it pretty cool,” Ross said.