Rowing for Gold: Talking to Meghan Musnicki

March 8, 2016 - Source: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America

March 8, 2016 - Source: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America

Every four years many of us find ourselves glued to our TVs watching in wonder as athletes from around the globe compete to be the best of the best. So when the opportunity to actually connect with an athlete who is currently in Rio and looking to medal this coming weekend presents itself, well, you jump all over that. 

Meet Meghan Musnicki. Meghan is a part of the U.S. women's eight rowing team. In 2012, Meghan and the rest of her team brought home the gold from the London Games. How amazing would that be to not only work incredibly hard at your sport and represent your country on the world's stage, but also bring home a gold medal? Talk about inspiring! This Saturday, she and her teammates will once again try to row their way to the gold, which would earn the U.S. their third consecutive gold medal in the women's eight. And while that's incredible in and of itself, we wanted to know how she got started and what advice she could offer parents of little ones who might watch her and wonder..."Could I do something like that?"

How did you become interested in rowing? When did you decide it was going to be an Olympic goal? I became interested in rowing somewhat randomly.  I knew absolutely nothing about it all through high school and only stumbled upon the sport as I was going to the basketball coach's office my freshman year of college.  I ran into the crew coach and he took one look at my size (jut under 6 feet and athletically built) and asked me to give rowing a try.  I figured I had been playing basketball and soccer my whole life up until that point and as a freshman in college, what better time to try something new?

What were some of the motivating factors that helped you to achieve you dream? I have been motivated by a lot of different things on my path to the Olympics; I would say one of the biggest factors is my love for racing, and my drive to constantly better myself and my performance for the success of the team as a whole. 

Why do you think it's important for little girls to see women in a variety of sports, including sports that are traditionally male dominated? I think its important for girls to see women in a variety of sports because it can open their eyes to something different.  It shows them that, gender aside, we can do anything.  Plus, from a image/self esteem perspective, I think it helps show that there is no one "right way" to look. 

What is one piece of advice you'd like to give girls to encourage them achieve their dreams? Expect to fail.  I have failed A LOT on my road to the Olympics.  I've cried, I've gotten angry and I've questioned why I do what I do.  Achieving a lofty goal/dream is not easy, but, all of the failures and the setbacks and the not so good days are part of what makes me a better athlete.  Something didn't work the first time?  Great, now I know that's not the way to do it so I try a different approach. "Fail Forward", learn from the setback and it's not a failure at all.

Can you tell parents out there ways they can support their kids in achieving their dreams?I th ink one way parents can support their kids is, first and foremost, by allowing them to try different activities and let the kids form their own opinions about the activity.  Try not to sway them one way or the other based on what you think as a parent.  Often times I think parents have an idea of how or what they want their kids to do (play sports/pursue art or theatre/educational clubs etc etc) and if/when they realize that their child is not taking the path that they saw them on or the path they themselves took growing up they feel like it's not "right".  That's not the case.  In my opinion, if your child develops a passion and a drive for something, that alone is special, it doesn't matter what it is.

2012 London Games medal ceremony. Photo credit: US Rowing.

2012 London Games medal ceremony. Photo credit: US Rowing.

How does it feel to win a gold medal? Winning a gold medal is an amazing feeling.  It is hard for me to describe the feeling exactly.  It is the pinnacle of my sport, what I train for multiple times a day, every day of the week, all year long.  I would imagine it is a similar feeling anyone gets when they reach or achieve some goal they've been working towards for a very long time; surreal and exceptional.

Apart from rowing, what is your favorite Olympic sport to watch and why? This is a tough question for me! I like watching so many different sports because I have such an immense amount of respect for every athlete that is here, win or lose, because I know how hard she/he has worked to get to this point in their career. Obviously the 'mainstream' sports are fun to watch since you recognize many of the competitors, but the less mainstream sports are almost more fun to watch!  In London, I was able to go to a weight lifting competition and just watching these women lift the weights they were lifting was amazing!  

Be sure to check out Meghan and the rest of the U.S. women's eight this Saturday, August 13, at 6:00 AM EST.  Row, ladies, row! You can do it!

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