The 22nd Winter Olympics kick off today in Sochi, Russia, and athletes from around the world have traveled to the seaside town to compete in sports including skiing, ice skating, bobsled and more.
But did you know that right here in Hopewell Boro, former Olympic rower Patrick Todd lives with his wife and two young children?
Todd participated with the men’s lightweight four rowing team in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. He also competed in the World Championships and is a six-time national champion and five-time senior national team member.
In addition to Todd, other former Olympic rower teammates also reside in the Mercer County area. Kevin Cotter lives in Hopewell, Bill Carlucci lives in Ringoes, and Paul Teti lives in Princeton.
Todd says when the media attention begins to ramp up ahead of the Olympic games, it brings up memories of his own focus on the sport and drive to compete.
“I definitely get nostalgic, mostly for the racing,” he says. “It was just tremendous fun competing and giving it your all against the world’s best.”
While the rowers lived off-site during their actual racing, they moved into the infamous Olympic village after competition during the second week of the games.
“The village experience was definitely unique – you are running into all these tremendous athletes and meeting so many people with varied experiences,” Todd says.
He notes that few rowers participated in the Olympic opening ceremonies because they competed the first day of the games, but Todd remembers the closing ceremonies as “truly spectacular.”
“It was an amazing feeling walking through the doorway to the glitter of the cameras and roaring crowds,” he recalls. “And both times it was a nice capstone to the entire four year process.”
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Todd rowed in high school and as an undergraduate at Harvard. During his junior year he was part of the team that won the National Championship. He tried out that summer for the National Team and made the boat, leading him to set his sights on the Olympics down the road.
The national team, USRowing, is actually headquartered in Princeton, NJ, so most of Todd’s training happened either on Lake Carnegie or Lake Mercer. He would then spend most of the winter in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Since he retired, most of the lightweights have actually moved out to Oklahoma City, as the city has created a training center there and is supportive of the team.
Todd now works as a health care analyst for an investment firm, but cherishes the memories from his Olympic experience and rowing career.
“I always loved all aspects of the sport — the training, racing, and camaraderie,” Todd says, “and I think that’s what kept me going all those years.”