Olympic Spotlight: Rowing's Carie Graves and Ellen Tomek

Aug. 5, 2008

by Jeff Smith
Contributor, BigTen.org

With the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games quickly approaching, BigTen.org takes a look at both former and current Olympians who have made their mark in their respective sports.  In today’s “Olympic Spotlight” feature, we take a look at the Olympic rowing careers of Carie Graves of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Ellen Tomek.

1976 – Montreal (Bronze)
1980 – Moscow *Did not compete due to U.S. Boycott
1984 – Los Angeles (Gold)

Carie Graves was a three-time Olympian following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin.  The Badger rower was a bronze medalist in the eight at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and a gold-medal winner in Los Angeles at the 1984 Games.  Although selected to compete at the 1980 Games in Moscow, Graves and the rest of the U.S. contingency did not participate due to the country’s boycott of the Games.

In addition to competing and medaling in two Olympic games, Graves spent 11 years competing in international waters.  She was a five-time U.S. National Team member in 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983, and the U.S. Olympic Committee honored her as Rowing's Female Athlete of the Year in both 1981 and 1984. 

Graves was also a two-time inductee into the National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame.  She was enshrined in 1984 as a member of the 1984 Olympic gold-medal team and later honored in 1991 as a member of the 1980 Olympic boycott team.

The former Badger has continued in the sport as she is set to enter her 10th year as the women’s rowing head coach for the University of Texas.  She has also spent successful stints as coach at Northeastern University in Boston and at Harvard.



During her time at Wisconsin, Graves helped the Badgers to their first national championship in 1975.  She joined the team as a sophomore after watching her brother try out for the men’s squad. Graves was an
inaugural member of the UW Athletics Hall of Fame having been inducted in 1991, and has since earned additional awards from the school.  She was rated No. 16 on the school’s "Top 100 Athletes of the Century" list.  Graves also was one of 11 selected as the "Century's Most Notable People" in American Rowing by the 2000-01 American Rower's Almanac.

Total Medals
* 1st Olympics in 2008
^ Includes boycotted 1980 Games

2008 – Beijing

Similar to Wisconsin’s Graves, Michigan graduate Ellen Tomek did not take up rowing until she arrived on campus in Ann Arbor and just six years later, she is now a U.S. Olympian.

Tomek is a two-time U.S. National team member, having spent the 2006 season on the Under-23 squad and the 2007 campaign on the Senior National team.  She used her win at the National Selection Regatta in late April as well as a fourth-place finish at the recent FISA World Cup regatta in Switzerland to convince the selection committee to extend her an invitation to Beijing.

Although relatively new to the sport, Tomek has managed to accumulate extensive experience in international competition.  In addition to her fourth-place result in the double sculls at the 2008 FISA World Cup, she placed seventh in the double sculls at the 2008 FISA World Cup stop in Munich, Germany.  In 2007, she finished sixth in the quadruple sculls at the FISA World Championships after placing fourth in the pair at the 2006 FISA World Under 23 Championships.

On the national level, Tomek won the double sculls at the 2008 National Selection Regatta #2, while finishing third in the quadruple sculls and fifth in the double sculls at the 2007 USRowing National Championships.

Tomek first took up the sport of rowing when she was a freshman at Michigan.  She was a member of the novice team that year, but quickly moved into the First Varsity Four and Second Varsity Eight boats the following season.  She a Big Ten champion in the Second Varsity Eight and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships.  The following year the boat placed sixth at NCAAs.  As a senior, Tomek was named to the All-Big Ten second team as a member of the First Varsity Eight, which finished runner-up at the conference championships.  The three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree graduated in 2006 and currently trains at the Princeton Training Center.