This is Gevvie Stone's third Olympics; see her original row2k starting five here, and her Four Years Later post from just before Rio.
How have you prepared differently for this quadrennial than previous cycles?
It's almost an unfair question to ask how training was different this cycle because COVID threw a wrench into everyone's preparation. That deserves its own separate essay--surviving without bathrooms/running water before launching, lifting out of garages, etc. Apart from the COVID changes, the past two cycles I was a med student for two years then rowed for two years.
1st time around...Stone races the heats at London 2012
This time, I was a residency applicant and volunteer rowing coach for one year (during which time I could train consistently 1-2 times daily) then a resident for a year (during which time I had stretches where I erged 2x40' over the course of an entire week). It meant that I was going decently fast in the summer of 2017, fast enough to decide to aim for Tokyo. Then I was significantly less fit two years out in the summer of 2018 when my leave of absence began. I wanted to mimic my fall 2015 training when I returned in the fall of 2018, but my enthusiasm was greater than my physiology and resulted in a bout of overtraining syndrome in the late fall 2018. I think it took longer for me this cycle to get back up to full speed.
Did anything completely unexpected happen, or do you have any memorable or unusual stories from your previous Olympiad?
The extreme wind and water took most people by surprise during the first day of competition in Rio. Many of the women's singles were rowing X17s, and they hadn't been fitted for a splashguard. We all took on water until our footwells were as full of water as possible. Water splashed in, water splashed out. After the morning's racing, there was a line of boats in slings at the Empacher tent as they drilled holes in the bows so that they could screw on splash guards.
On a more personal note, Kimmy approached me on the dock soon after we landed our boats for the medal presentation. She told me that she knew I would be her biggest competition. As someone who felt I was an underdog for the 2016 cycle, it meant a lot to know that the fastest woman in the world (and one with a legit rowing resume) thought something of my speed.
2nd time around...Olympic silver in Rio
Any/Most important advice for first time Olympians?
Enjoy the experience. Early on in the stay, take a big breath, look around, and soak in all in. Then, remember the hard work you've dedicated to rowing and focus in on your goal.
What was your state of mind like sitting in the starting block of your first Olympic race?
I had to look back at emails (notably my blog entry for row2k) to find an answer for this one...The day of my heats in London, I was in awe--of the level of competition and of the atmosphere at Eton-Dorney. On a glorious summer day, thousands of fans were out--both in the stands and along the banks. It was a very jovial mood. I was able to appreciate it largely because as intense as my race was--up against Karsten and Levina--the stakes were relatively low--in a heat of five (including two nations from continental qualifiers), four advanced directly to the quarterfinals. I had confidence that I could beat the scullers from Mexico and Algeria and that allowed me to use the heat as an "introduction to Olympic racing" race, which is a bit of a blessing thanks to the large number of entries in the single.
What's different this time around/what will you do differently at this Olympics?
This Games I'm in a double, which changes the experience dramatically. It takes different technique to make the boat move. It takes a different mental and emotional approach having a partner. It changes the progression, from 30+ entries to 13 entries. Not to mention, it's a different country and a long set of COVID regulations. This Games will be unlike the others for sure!
Do you feel older/better/wiser/stronger/other?
COVID for starters! This Olympics will be unlike the prior two largely because of all the regulations. The team will be in Tokyo for less time leading up to competition (despite a significant time change and a different climate--two other big differences from London and Rio), and then we will leave Japan as soon as competition is finished--no exploring the city, no partying, no attending other sports events, etc. It will be more like a World Champs in a way thanks to its much more narrowed focus on rowing.
Does the phrase "the Olympics" ring differently the next time around?
Making the Olympic team is just as special as the first time around! Whether it's the first or third time, it's years of hard work with both success and failures, challenges and victories. Having that process result in the opportunity to compete at the sports highest level is incredible.
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 basics of racing stay the same no matter the regatta: go as fast as possible over 2k. The atmosphere changes though, and the Olympics are a bigger stage with more pomp and arguably the biggest reward that exists in rowing--an Olympic medal.
Hometown: Newton, MA
Club Affiliation: Cambridge Boat Club
Date of Birth: July 11, 1985
High School: Winsor School
Education: Princeton University, 2007
Training Location: Cambridge, MA
Current Coach: Gregg Stone
National Teams: Nine - Under 23, 2006-07; Senior 2011, 2014-15, 2019; Olympic, 2012, 2016, 2020
International Results: Finished third in the double sculls at the 2021 World Rowing Cup II...Finished fifth in the the double at the 2019 World Rowing Championships...Won silver in the double sculls at the 2019 World Rowing Cup II...Won silver in the single sculls at the 2016 Olympic Games...Won silver in the single sculls at the 2016 World Rowing Cup II...Finished fourth in the single sculls at the 2015 World Rowing Championships...Won bronze in the single sculls at 2015 World Rowing Cup III...Won silver in the single sculls at 2015 World Rowing Cup II...Finished ninth in the single sculls at the 2014 World Rowing Championships...Finished seventh in the single sculls at the 2012 Olympic Games...Finished eighth in the quadruple sculls at the 2012 World Rowing Cup II...Finished third in the single sculls at the 2012 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta...Finished 11th in the single sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships...Finished 13th in the single sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Cup III...Reached the final of the Princess Royal Challenge Cup at the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta...Finished seventh in the single sculls at the 2010 World Rowing Cup III...Reached the final of the Princess Royal Challenge Cup at the 2010 Henley Royal Regatta.
National Results: Won the double sculls at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Rowing...Finished second in the single sculls at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Rowing...Won the championship single sculls at the 2008, 2010-12, 2014-2019 Head of the Charles Regattas...Won the single sculls at the 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials...Won the single sculls at the 2015 National Selection Regatta I...Won the single sculls at the 2014 National Selection Regatta II...Won the single sculls at the 2014 National Selection Regatta I...Won the single sculls at the 2012 Non-Qualified Small Boat Olympic Trials...Won the championship single at the 2011 Head of the Charles Regatta...Won the single sculls at the 2011 Senior World Championships Trials...Finished second in the double sculls at the 2011 National Selection Regatta II...Won the single sculls at the 2011 National Selection Regatta I...Won the championship single at the 2010 Head of the Charles Regatta...Won the single sculls at the 2010 National Selection Regatta I.
Personal: Gevvie was born on 7/11/1985 and attended The Winsor School. She was named USRowing's Female Athlete of the Year in 2016. She enjoys baking, gardening, sailing, hiking, reading, cross-country skiing and, of course, eating ice cream and sleeping. She says she may have one of the most stretched out student-athlete careers ever, now extending into her 20th year of rowing and learning. In addition to nerding out on rowing and medicine, she was a U.S. history major. Gevvie said she can go on talking for too long about ice cream, my dog, Echo, and my summer camp (the old-fashioned, all-girls kind). On how she got into rowing, Gevvie said, "Some say I was born into it. I would say I resisted it until I realized after all (sophomore/junior year of high school) that it probably was a better fit for me than ball sports." She lists her sports heroes as Michelle Kwan, who showed true sports(wo)manship at the highest stages of her skating career and then went on to use her brain to help the world, Billie Jean King for being not just an athlete but also a voice for positive change, and also Tom Brady, because GOAT.