Update, Aug. 14: Munn and Team USA finished fourth — just out of the medals.
Eight-man rowing, more than any other Olympic sport, rewards flawless teamwork.
So it’s exciting, though not shocking, to learn that one of the members of Team USA’s eight-man rowing team is an Eagle Scout. Rob Munn, one of seven Eagle Scout Olympians in Rio, will race for gold in Saturday’s finals. (Find viewing details at the end of this post.)
Munn won’t stand out in Saturday’s race. Nobody will.
There are no MVPs in eight-man rowing. Unlike basketball or baseball, one player cannot carry his squad to victory. In rowing, each member must put forth precisely the same effort as the rower in front of him and behind him.
Munn learned how to be a member of a team — how to set aside individual needs to advance common goals — in a Boy Scout patrol in Washington state. The individual accolades, including earning the Eagle Scout award in 2008, eventually came. But that was after Munn discovered how to help other people at all times and be loyal and helpful, friendly and courteous, kind and cheerful.
Munn, whose rowing career really took off at the University of Washington, is part of a different team now.
Sometimes the boat is the fastest; sometimes it isn’t. Munn learned that lesson in high school.
“My club wasn’t always the best, but I just kind of stuck with it,” he said in an interview with USRowing. “It’s kind of my nature. I’m going to stick with something and see how far I can get with it.”
Munn could have gone to the Olympics in two-man rowing but decided to attempt to qualify in the tougher but more prestigious eight-man race. (Team USA won eight consecutive gold medals in this event — 1920 to 1956.)
Munn knows racing with seven other rowers — plus a coxswain barking orders — isn’t the same as racing with just one other guy.
“The rowing may not always be 100 percent on because you have to deal with eight different people,” he said. “So you’ve gotta get everybody in the same mindset. It’s a big challenge. But I haven’t really taken the easiest path to get anywhere.”
Team USA’s path to the eight-man finals wasn’t easy. The men finished second in their heat on Aug. 8, losing to Germany. They bounced back Aug. 11, winning the repêchage, which is a fancy name for a team’s final chance to make the finals.
How to cheer this Eagle Scout on
The United States races for gold on Saturday, Aug. 13, where it will battle Poland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand.
The race is set for 10:24 a.m. EDT, weather permitting, and will air on NBC. Here’s the link to watch the race.
USRowing video about Rob Munn