Valley's Only Olympic Gold Medalist honored
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Mrs. Cooke christens the new shell
Yale University added a new shell to its growing fleet at the magnificent Gilder Boat House in Derby, and the event was especially significant in the naming of the shell for one of its most storied oarsman - John Patrick Cooke. The event was not only noteworthy for Yale and the Cooke family, but also for the entire Valley as the Ansonia native is believed to be the only Valley person to ever win a Gold Medal in the Olympics. Cooke accomplished the feat 50 years ago while a member of Yale's heavyweight crew at the 1956 Olympic games in Australia. That was the last time that an American collegiate crew won a gold medal in the Olympics. Click here for a complete story of John Cooke's life.
Though the weather may have been wet, dark and dreary following a full morning of racing between Yale and Dartmouth, there was a very warm and sunny feeling inside the boat house as Yale officials including Athletic Director Tom Beckett, Heavyweight Coach John Pescatore and former coach Dave Vogel extolled the contributions that Cooke made to Yale and to the rowing movement before his widow Torrey Matheson Cooke officially christened the sleek new shell - first with a bottle of champagne and then with a bucket of water from the Housatonic! The eight man shell is an Empacher product and is valued at well over $30,000. It features a kevlar/carbonfiber reinforced sandwich material with nomex honeycombs. and is a distinctive yellow in color.
Earlier in the morning, the Yale men's heavyweight crew team
successfully defended their Olympic Axe title over Dartmouth. All four
Yale boats won comfortably on a rainy, windy and cold Housatonic river.
The Yale women's crew team also gave the Yale crowd something to
celebrate as they won the Class of 1985 Cup Saturday morning, beating
Dartmouth and Boston University. Yale won four of its five races in the
Cooke family members celebrate the launch of the new shell
Mrs. Cooke was surrounded by family, friends, current Yale rowers and two fellow members of the winning Olympic crew - David Wight and coxswain Bill Becklean.
Olympic teammates David Wight (L) and Bill Becklean pictured with Mrs. Cooke.