The US women's eight finished fourth today, ending an Olympic gold medal three-peat that started in Beijing in 2008 and continued in London and Rio in 2012 and 2016.
row2k: Fourth place is a tough spot to be. Is there anything that would have made a different today, in the last year or two years, in how that race today went down?
Megan Musnicki: I don't think there's anything that would have changed the effort that we put out there, the drive that we put in, how hard we trained for the last five years. I guess, no, I don't think there's anything that would have changed that. All nine of us put it all out there today, and I'm very proud of them.
Question: Earlier, you talked about appreciating the journey, especially in the past year. Where are you now as the journey has brought you to this?
Katelin Guregian : I am deeply, deeply proud of myself, and my teammates, and my coaches, and the women that aren't in my boat that are on my team that are back home and aren't here at this regatta. To get here took an inordinate amount of effort and belief in ourselves and each other.
I have said this to the group; I would do the whole five years over again even knowing what the result would be. That's how much these women mean to me, and that's how much lining up at the Olympics with these eight strong, independent, incredible women means to me. It's the honor of my lifetime. I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Question: Rowing is a sport where 100 percent of your team all competed in college. Can one of you could talk a little bit about your college experience and how it helps, not only you, but rowers grow and develop as people.
Kristine O'Brien: Women's rowing is where it is now because of the Title Nine and collegiate rowing. There are women from the collegiate system in every boat out there in all different kinds of events and from all different countries. We're very fortunate to have that experience. Half of this boat didn't start rowing until college. That's incredible. Some just started rowing five or six years ago and are racing at the Olympics. Yeah, it's incredible. I'm very thankful for my collegiate rowing experience. I know I wouldn't be the athlete I am here today if it wasn't for rowing at the University of Virginia.
row2k: Over the past year and a half you have trained in basements, garages, all kinds of bizarre situations. Maybe leading up to this result, and even now, how do you reflect back on that? Is there some consolation in just getting here?
Musnicki: Yes; it's the Olympics, we're one of the fastest boats in the world. To be able to compete at the Olympics in the women's eight or in any event is an incredible honor. You take into account what the last year was like with the pandemic, and it's even more of an honor, and it speaks volumes for everyone - not just Team USA, but all of the other federations that are here - and what they each went through to get themselves at this point at the pinnacle of their sport. Win or lose it is an incredible feat.
Guregian: It made me appreciate so much more the team and my teammates, and I've always had appreciation for my teammates. I know that I would never want to be an athlete in an individual event, but having to train by myself - my training is obviously different than everyone else's - but spending time without the team made me appreciate what we have in Princeton so much more than I thought possible, and that's a really special feeling.
row2k: Do any of you have a specific moment you think back on now that would underline how wild it is just to get here? Some specific moment in a basement, in a garage, in the snow?
Guregian: I drove across the country five times (all laugh) because I couldn't take a plane and I wanted to go visit my husband in Oakland. I slept in my car the whole time. I didn't want to stay in a hotel either.
Charlotte Buck: When we were back together, we did a lot of ergs outside on a pavilion in front of the public. We did ergs in the park, where there were little kids running around, and we still did it.
Brooke Mooney: I remember the day that we got the email saying the Olympics were postponed, and I was doing an erg workout with Grace Luczak from the women's four. We were all halfway through the workout, and another teammate of mine who didn't make it to the Olympics called me.
I thought "Why am I getting a phone call in the middle of this workout? This is weird." She called to say that the Olympics were postponed, and I looked at Grace and I said, "We're going to finish this workout. No matter what, we're going to finish this workout. We're going to complete everything we had to complete because the Olympics are going to keep going. They're going to be on, and we're going to do the work."
Question: It's easy for people to tune into rowing every four years to think, "Oh, it's the US women, a medal is a foregone conclusion," but you have been saying all along that it's not necessarily the case. What's different about this cycle as compared to others?
Musnicki: Everything! Look at these faces. Look at the faces last year, and the year before that. All the faces are different, right? That is, in my opinion, one of the coolest things about racing for the US women - how deep the squad is and how it cycles women in and out. It's different from year to year.
It's different every year because there is a different lineup and a different team chemistry. The goal is always the same - put it all out there and go as fast as you can on that day.
Question: For Meghan, do you think this Olympics has been more challenging than past Olympics given the restrictions? Results aside, being here without family, being here without fans, the Olympic village. Has this been harder for you guys?
Musnicki: I think, to be honest with you, yes, it's really hard to not have our friends and family here, but I think Japan has done an incredible job. Hats off to them. It's is a class act, and they did an incredible job coming off of kind of still in a global pandemic. I have the utmost respect for them and what they put in to make this happen for us. I'm incredibly grateful.
Question: This was a difficult Olympics for the other US boats who did not finish on the podium. What words did you share with them? What consolation and how do you take those words that maybe you shared with them and remember those words for yourself.
Guregian: I talked to the lightweight double, they're my roommates, and when I got home yesterday, they were going through "what if's" - you know, what if we had done this a little better or done that a little better? I said, "Well, how about the other side of the coin? What if you hadn't done this as well? What if you hadn't finished that erg workout? Maybe you wouldn't even be here."
There are so many "what if's" - you know, what if we didn't put in the work? What if we didn't believe? We might not even be in fourth. We might not even be at the Olympics. We could have been home right now. That's something that I'm going to think about for the rest of my life; that every time we wanted to say no, we said yes instead, and we got here, and that's f'ing awesome. Sorry for swearing.
Question: How do you process this over the next however many hours before thinking of whatever is next for any of you in your careers - both in rowing and also in your own personal lives?
Musnicki: You take all the time you need. There's no timeline to it, right? It's individual for each person. You process it as you would process anything else, on your own timeline and in your own way.
Jessica Theones: But we start and we finish together - just like at the race out there.