1. How have you prepared differently for this quadrennial than previous cycles?
Our training under Tom Terhaar is very focused and we always work hard. That hasn't changed since Athens. The only difference this time is that our whole squad has been training in the small boats more frequently. In 2004, we were in the eight almost all the time. From 2005 through today, our squad rows in the small boats and takes what we learn from there into the eight. I believe our technical skills and strength have greatly increased as a result.
2. Did anything completely unexpected happen, or do you have any memorable or unusual stories from your previous Olympiad?
We rowed in a seriously nasty tail wind for our heat against the defending Olympic champions, Romania. We just surfed our way to the line and I even caught a couple diggers. We held them off for the win and it was such a blur. All I could think was that I really could do better next time. When we got out of the boat and approached the media mix zone, a Seattle reporter said, "How does it feel to have broken the world record?" I couldn't have been more surprised. Kate Johnson, definitely NOT a potty mouth, let her exuberance out by swearing on national television. Can you blame her?
3. Any/Most important advice for first time Olympians?
Rowing at the Olympics is not for perfect athletes. The hand of God will not come down and make you Jesus walking on the water. Just do your thing and have fun trying your best. Have no regrets. Then, when you cross the line, take a look around and hopefully you will have earned your golden moment.
4. What was your state of mind like sitting in the starting block of your first Olympic race?
I was so nervous I thought I would rather die. Normally, that nervous feeling is not that intense and it goes away after I start the warm-up routine, but it didn't. Thank goodness the starting light went off and the adrenaline started pumping to put me out of my misery. Then, a whole different sort of pain set in to my legs, lungs, and arms, but I prefer that to the death nerves.
5. What's different this time around/what will you do differently at this Olympics?
There are a couple awesome differences this time around. First, I have the honor of competing in two events. Second, I have my new married name and my best friend with me every step of the way and after the Games as well.
Other than that, the game plan will be the same as it is for any regatta, focus on doing what I have done every day in practice and in every race before. My teammates are incredible and I wouldn't be able to race two events without the solid depth on our squad. We are a seamless unit going for gold.
6. Do you feel older/better/wiser/stronger/other?
After Athens, I had my sights set on a gold medal performance in Beijing. My coach helped me to attack my weaknesses, mainly my technical skills. I learned how to row the single and spent a year on the sculling team. I took my new skills back to the sweep team in 2006. My eight rowing was much better and once paired up with Megan Cooke and Portia McGee, I learned to make the pair go fast as well. The technical changes I acquired helped me to get more out of each row. My strength has increased as a result of these more efficient rowing practices.
Also, I have made some good changes to my eating habits. I eat more fruits and veggies, upped the Omega 3's, and have way less processed stuff (stay away from corn syrup, partially hydrogenated anything, etc.). I have much more energy as a result.
I have no regrets and feel ready for my best in Beijing.
7. Does the phrase "the Olympics" ring differently the next time around?
For me, a little bit of the magic of the Olympics was found and left in Athens. I feel like I have more of a business woman's approach to these Games. Let's get 'er done.
8. As far as regattas go, comparing the olympics to different races (worlds, lucerne), is it a better or different regatta, or just higher stakes?
The Olympics have a few extra million people watching and the athletes pull out all the stops, but other than that, rowing a 2k is always just rowing a 2k. Then again, it is more fun to have all that attention!
ANNA CUMMINS BIO:
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
Current Residence: Princeton, N.J.
Club Affiliation: Pocock Rowing Center
Began Rowing: University of Washington, 1999
Date of Birth: 3/21/1980
High School: Newport High School
Undergraduate Education: University of Washington, 2002
Occupation: Frank Shields Fellow with the National Rowing Foundation
Current Coach: Tom Terhaar
Personal: Anna is an eight-time senior national team member and two-time Olympian...In 2006, Anna was named USRowing's Female Athlete of the Year...She was a walk-on to the University of Washington crew where her background from running track and cross-country and playing basketball helped her become a natural oars woman...Working for the National Rowing Foundation, Anna helps past and present athletes who pursue excellence in the sport of rowing...She was married in December of 2007 to former Husky rower and 1997 World Champion Bob Cummins...The couple honeymooned at her favorite vacation spot, the family's cabin at Lake Quinault...Built in 1927, it's located on the Olympic peninsula west of Seattle and is on the Washington State National Register of Historic Places...Bob's sister, Angie (Cummins) Sievers, rowed for the U.S. in the lightweight women's quad in 1997...Her biggest fans are her husband and her parents, Dave and Denise Mickelson, who have attended nearly every competition she has raced in...Anna's hobbies include skyping her nieces, Kara and Mary, and frequenting her hometown coffee shop, Starbucks...Anna enjoys music and lists Coldplay as her favorite concert...She looks forward to opening a chiropractic office with her husband in the greater Seattle area...In the office, she hopes to use her knowledge from elite training to bring wellness and knowledge of health to those around her. Anna enjoys backpacking, running road races and reading her weekend subscription to the New York Times...Anna says the sporting events she would pay to see include the Olympic final in the mile and the University of Washington in a national championship football game.