An Olympic dream comes true for a Roxborough native

A Roxborough native is chasing his dream all the way to London.

Glenn Ochal, 26, will join Charlie Cole, Scott Gault and Henrik Rummel on the U.S. Olympic Men’s Rowing Team in the 2012 London Games on July 30. This will be the first time competing in the Olympics for Ochal and teammates Cole and Rummel.

Glenn’s father, Lee Ochal, was at work when he learned the news of his son’s placement on the team.

“I check the rowing websites frequently, and I saw he was named in the men’s four crew,” said Lee, proudly. “It’s a beautiful thing; he’s worked for this his whole life.”

Lee says his son, who has lived at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California for the past two years, has had Olympic dreams since he began rowing at Roman Catholic High School in Center City.

“He began rowing in high school, following in his brothers’ footsteps, all three of my boys are rowers,” said Lee. “Glenn’s been committed to rowing. He’s not the type to go out late on a Friday night because he gets up early in the morning to get out on the water.”

Developing his rowing career

Glenn attended Princeton University and rowed on the school’s team for four years, during which time he won the Eastern Sprint Championship and captured the Ladies Challenge Plate at the Royal Henley Regatta.

His father says Glenn had Olympic aspirations for the 2008 Olympics, but decided to wait until he finished college and set his sights on the 2012 Olympics.

After graduating from Princeton in 2008 with a Bachelor of Economics, he began coaching at the Carnegie Lake Rowing Association and Crescent Boat Club, both in Philadelphia. By 2009, he was hired as an assistant coach for Princeton’s lightweight rowing team.

Over the past three years, Ochal has rowed with the junior national team, the under-23 team and the national team. He has also finished in the top three at every National Selection Regatta since 2009. 

In 2011, he placed eighth in the quadruple sculls at the World Rowing Championships, which secured his placement in the London 2012 Olympic Games, where he is set to row on the men’s four. 

For the love of the sport

Lee says his son is now in Germany awaiting the London Games. For the past several weeks, Glenn was stationed in Chula Vista, Cal. for an Olympic training camp.

“From what I understand, it’s very intense. They go out on the water two or more times a day, they train on stationary rowing machines,” said Lee. “Glenn’s the kind of guy who sets his mind on something and does it. He has a strong focus.”

Lee says his son has always been focused on his rowing career and that for Glenn, the Olympics is the highest attribute to his rowing talent.

“Reporters have asked him, ‘What will you do after the Olympics?’ and he doesn’t know. He says he’s only planned up to the Olympics,” said Lee, with a laugh. “This is truly his dream.”

Roxborough community raises Olympic-sized funds

Both Lee and Joanne, Glenn’s parents, will be traveling to see their son row in the 2012 Olympics. This is, in part, thanks to their kids, LeaAnne, Kyle and Justin, who put together a beef-and-beer fundraiser at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Manayunk last month. 

The costly trip includes airfare to London, hotel stay and tickets for the Olympic games, which, for the rowing events alone, run from $30 to $150 U.S. dollars, according to www.tickets.london2012.com.

Glenn’s parents, who have only traveled internationally to Italy, say they’re “thrilled” to see their son in London.

“He has committed his life to the Olympics,” said Lee. “I don’t know when I’ll even be able to shake his hand, but just to be there, it’s pretty amazing.”

When asked what he hopes for his son in London, Lee recalled his feelings at a recent Fourth of July parade.

“At the start of the parade they played the National Anthem and I said to my buddy, ‘I’d like to hear that played in England’,” said Lee.

He added that the family’s hopes are high, but as his son Glenn says, “we’ll just have to see when we get there.”

NewsWorks was unable to get in contact with Glenn because he is in Germany for Olympic training. He competes on Monday, July 30, at 10:30 a.m. To follow him on Twitter, search for @glennochal.

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