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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    Old Lyme’s Corrigan ready to challenge for a rowing gold medal at Paris Olympics

    In this 2019 file photo, Old Lyme's Liam Corrigan is shown rowing with the U.S. men's four team in the 2019 World U23 Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Fla. (Photo courtesy of USRowing)

    When Liam Corrigan returns home to visit his parents, he usually stops by Rogers Lake where he first started down the path to becoming a two-time Olympian.

    Corrigan, an Lyme-Old Lyme High School graduate, fondly recalled those early days of his rowing life during a break from training with the United States team for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which begin late next month in Paris.

    He appreciates the community’s support over the years.

    “I learned to row literally for our public high school team,” said Corrigan, who’s working out with the U.S. team in Princeton, N.J. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have that and the club there, Blood Street Sculls. … The club has been hugely supportive of me just in general. It’s really an incredible community.

    “I’m very much still in touch. I probably go back three or four times a year, more often than not I’ll go for a row on Rogers Lake. I’ve watched some of the high school practices and things like that. So it’s really nice to have that to come back to.”

    His next trip home to southeastern Connecticut, he hopes to be wearing a medal around his neck.

    Corrigan, 26, will be competing in the Men’s Four, which is expected to challenge for a medal in Paris.

    There’s ample evidence to support that case.

    Corrigan and teammates Michael Grady, Nick Mead and Justin Best placed second in the World Rowing Cup II, an exhibition held last month in Lucerne, Switzerland. Seven of the nine teams that qualified for the Olympics were in the field.

    The U.S. four also finished second in the 2023 World Championships in Serbia, just behind powerhouse Great Britain.

    Another positive sign.

    “Coming in second last year gave us a sense that we weren’t so far behind Great Britain and that we really can be in a good position to be very competitive if we approach the training the right way and we have a good run up…,” Corrigan said. “It definitely continues the thinking that there’s no evidence that anyone is substantially faster than us.”

    Another reason for Corrigan to be optimistic is his team’s experience.

    All four rowers competed in the previous Olympics in Tokyo. Corrigan just missed out on a medal in the eight competition, as the U.S. placed fourth.

    No matter the outcome at the Olympics, Corrigan will have a different experience than in Tokyo, which was greatly impacted by COVID restrictions. Athletes were essentially in a bubble and tested every day. Spectators were limited.

    In Paris, Olympians will have a lot more freedom.

    After his team’s competition, which starts in late July, he’ll be able to soak in the atmosphere. His parents will be there to root him on.

    “I’m definitely looking forward to that,” Corrigan said. “I think, more than anything, though, the focus is on coming home with a medal and hopefully a gold medal.”

    It’s been quite the journey for Corrigan. After graduating from Old Lyme, he attended Harvard, competed for the rowing program and studied physics and astrophysics.

    Corrigan went to England and earned a masters degree in financial economics at Oxford University. In April 2022, he rowed in The Boat Race, which pits Oxford versus Cambridge and started in 1829.

    “For me, it was unique to live in another country and still be able to row and train at a high level…,” Corrigan said. “That really was very cool. The other part was growing with all these other guys. In our boat, five of the eight rowers had been to previous Olympics. So we had all come from this pretty high standard of rowing.”

    His rowing career is heading down the home stretch. He’s planning to start a new job after the Olympics and put the demanding rowing schedule behind him.

    No more missing out on weddings, special occasions and holidays with his family.

    “I don’t think anyone would say they regret that,” Corrigan said. “Because it’s obviously something that everyone’s just so determined to do and excited to do. But then at what point does it make sense to stop doing that? … For me, that’s what I’m weighing. Immediately afterwards, I’m committed to going back more into a career mode. Maybe a year or two down the line, I’ll sort of reevaluate and see, but that’s my thinking right now.”

    Corrigan hopes to make the best of what could be his last Olympics.

    The U.S. rowing team will head to Europe on July 5 and train in Italy for two weeks before going to France.

    He’s ready to take full advantage of his second chance.

    “I think when you make your first Olympic team, it’s really exciting, right?” Corrigan said. “Because now I’m an Olympian and it’s something that a lot of people who are at the Olympics really have been dreaming of their whole lives, or since they started their sport. That’s true for me for rowing.

    “Then you got to your first Olympics and we came in fourth and we were close. We were a second off second and third basically and two seconds off first, which in rowing is close enough where you think like there’s a couple of things we could have done a little differently that maybe you could have closed that gap.

    “Now it’s like, alright, I’ve been to the Olympics, great. Now let’s go and win. And that’s the mentality certainly everyone in our boat has right now.”


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