James Chapman was a reserve for the men’s eight for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games which inspired him to continue rowing and make the 2008 Australian Olympic Team. Chapman was initially part of the men’s four crew that missed out on initial qualification for the 2008 Games, but his excellent form at the trials led to his inclusion in the men’s eight in Beijing. The crew finished sixth in the 2008 final.
For the London Games in 2012 Chapman was joined by William Lockwood, Joshua Dunkley-Smith and three-time Olympic gold medallist Drew Ginn as the crew looked to win the first men’s four title for Australia since the 1996 Atlanta Games. The crew showed they would be a force to be reckoned with in London when they won silver in World Cup 2 in Lucerne at the end of May, and then gold at World Cup 3 in Germany.
Their strong form continued into the London 2012 Games as they won their heat by almost three seconds and recorded a new Olympic record before finishing second behind the British in the semi-final.
In what was an extremely close Olympic final, the Australians passed the halfway mark 0.61 seconds behind the British crew and were 0.69 seconds down with 500m to go. The British crew, buoyed by the home crowd support, managed to pull away slightly as the finish line approached eventually beating Chapman and his crewmates by 1.22 seconds. It was the British crew’s fourth consecutive gold medal in the event.