Shaker High School graduate Austin Meyer is trying out for the United States Olympic rowing team after earning a silver medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last year. Submitted photo
COLONIE — Austin Meyer has Rio de Janeiro in his sights.
The 2008 Shaker High School graduate is competing in USRowing’s Olympic team trials next month in Florida. Meyer and teammate Nick Trojan are aiming to qualify in the lightweight double sculls division.
“If you win the trials, you go to the Olympics. If you lose, you don’t,” said Meyer in a phone interview from Washington, where he is training for the Olympic team qualifier.
Meyer is coming off a 2015 season in which he earned a silver medal in the lightweight double sculls division at the Pan American Games in Toronto and was part of the United States lightweight quadruple sculls team that finished fifth at both the Pan Am Games and the World Rowing Championships.
But to hear him tell it, Meyer wasn’t satisfied with either accomplishment.
“I had a tough year last year. I considered being part of the Pan Am (Games) team the B team. I got knocked out in the (national team selection) trials,” said Meyer.
Meyer took up rowing at the age of 14 with the Shaker Rowing Association. Less than three full seasons later, the Cohoes resident won single sculls titles at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championships, the USRowing Club National Championships and the prestigious Canadian Henley Regatta.
“That was a big deal for me because I was rowing against some really good guys,” Meyer said of his 2007 Canadian Henley victory in the junior single sculls competition.
By the time he graduated from Shaker in 2008, Meyer had established himself as one of the elite high school rowers in the country. That led to Meyer attending and rowing for Harvard University.
“Rowing is a sport of tradition, especially going to school at Harvard,” said Meyer.
Meyer continued honing his skills and piling up titles at Harvard. He was part of a championship eight-man boat at the Eastern Sprints and the World Championship trials in 2011. He earned a gold medal at the 2012 IRA Championships and then took first place in the lightweight double sculls division at the 2013 World Championship trials — his first post-graduate title.
Along the way, Meyer said he picked up valuable information about what he needed to do to get to the next level.
“I was getting a constant taste of what the next level was,” said Meyer.
Meyer hoped he would reach the highest level of competition last year, but a stumble in the finals of the National Selection Regatta left he and his teammate, Nick Trojan, qualifying for the Pan Am Games team. They tried to make the most of it in Toronto, but they fell shy of the gold medal.
“That’s one of those bittersweet moments where we wanted to do our best, and we hoped to win — maybe we expected to win,” said Meyer. “But, we did our best and came in second.”
Meyer’s goal is not to fall short again. He wants to reach that final level of competition.
“There is no other level than the guys I’m aiming for now,” said Meyer. “I’m not there yet. I’m not a world champion, but that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Associate editor/sports editor