Illinois Olympic Rowers Miss Medals - NBC Chicago
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Illinois Olympic Rowers Miss Medals

Itasca native Sarah Zelenka and Dekalb twins Grant and Ross James finish fourth



    Illinois Olympic Rowers Miss Medals
    Getty Images
    WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Sarah Zelenka and Sara Hendershot of the United States prepare to compete in the Women's Pair Heats on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Eton Dorney. On Day 5, the pair finished fourth, just out of medal contention.

    It was a tough day for Illinois' Olympic rowers in London.

    Itasca native Sarah Zelenka and Dekalb twins Grant and Ross James placed just out of medal contention Wednesday in their respective races.

    Zelenka and her partner Sara Hendershot finished fourth behind New Zealand, Australia and Britain in the women's pairs finals.

    Despite not securing a medal in the event, Zelenka's family called her fourth place score "excellent."

    "It's kind of rough, but we're so proud. She has had a step back before but bounced back and got better," Zelenka's godfather Steve Maddeck said proudly. "No matter what she is an Olympian."

    Zelenka had come to the 2012 Olympics with gold in the women's eight and four events at the 2010 World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland.

    "The girl is on fire," Zelenka's Itasca Park District and Lake Park High School swim coach Dan Whitteveen told NBC Chicago. "You can't count Sarah out at all."

    In the men's eight rowing event, the James brothers and the rest of the U.S. team also placed fourth. Germany's team won gold, followed by Canada and Britain.

    The brothers, former University of Wisconsin rowers, were the only veterans left on the 2008 team that failed to qualify for the Beijing Games.

    Before they left, Grant and Ross James said their relationship with rowing is far from over.

    “Rowing’s the kind of thing you just take the next step and we’ve just been along the way continuing to push for the next goal,” Ross James told NBC Chicago.