Madison Mailey graduated from Northeastern in 2018 and raced 6-seat in the Canadian W8+ at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
1. What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice; was there anything memorable about it?
I just started eighth grade and signed up for volleyball with a group of my girlfriends. I was so excited and came home to tell my parents, but thankfully they changed my mind! My brother had started rowing the year before, so my parents successfully convinced me to try an outdoor sport like rowing. The next day, I told the volleyball coach my decision, and the rest is history.
I remember the first time I got into the boat, and I thought it was so fun. I probably laughed more than I rowed!
2. Was there a practice, race or other event when you fell in love with the sport, or when you knew you might not be too bad at rowing? When you thought you could make the national team?
I honestly loved rowing right from the start. Through rowing I made such special friendships. I loved being outside and going fast! When Annabel Irwin and I won gold competing in the JW Doubles at the 2012 "School Boys Regatta," we became the Canadian Senior High School Champs; that's when I realized I was not too bad at rowing!
Mailey on podium
During grade 10 we were waking up at 4:30 AM to go to practice no matter the weather. I knew I must love rowing if I was willing to sacrifice my sleep and normalcy of my remaining high school years. I have to give a big shout out to my dear parents who sacrificed their sleep for years to get me to those practices.
3. Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
One of my most challenging practices was this past February. We were doing our second round of selection for the Olympic Team, and it was pouring rain and around 0 degrees Celsius outside. I remember we did four swaps in straight fours, and between each piece came in to warm up and change equipment/seats.
After we got out of the boat and changed out of our wet clothes, we were so cold we all jammed into the safety suit closet where there was a heater. Every time we went out for a 1500m the conditions were a bit different, but in the third piece, hail was bouncing off Susanne Grainger's back in front of me! I remember thinking, "wow we are badass, the Tokyo heat is going to be nothing if we can get through this".
On the flip side, one of the best practices we did was when I was stroking the eight up at Shawinigan Lake and we did a 500 on, 500 off. We had no idea how many pieces we were going to do, but ended up doing 16 pieces and holding Gold Medal Standard splits the whole time! After that row, we went for a swim in the lake, and I was quoted saying, "Guys I think we are fast." That very quote was used to tease me while standing in the center of the Olympic podium!
4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?
I am dating Maxwell Lattimer, a teammate and two-time Olympic rower in the LM4- in 2016 and LM2x in 2020. During the early COVID-19 pandemic we were training at home and did a lot of workouts together. Many were very frustrating for me, as he proved he is stronger and fitter, until the moment I showed him my peak power. In an erg workout; 10x10 stroke max session with ample rest between sets, I beat him by almost 50 watts each set! Take that Maxwell!
5. Any/Most important advice for young rowers?
Ergs Don't Float! My teammates in our Olympic gold medal eight had 2km erg scores between 6:30 and 6:50, yet looking at biomechanics data on our boat we could see we were all between 40 watts of each other. The takeaway is that it's important not to let your erg score define you, and to have confidence in your technical and boat moving skills. I want all young rowers to believe that hard work, resilience and determination can get you far. Go chase your dreams and always believe in yourself.
Hometown: Lions Bay, BC
Club Affiliation: Burnaby Lake Rowing Club
Date of Birth: October 22, 1996
High School: Collingwood School
Education: Northeastern University, 2018
National Teams: Five - Under 23, 2017-18; Senior, 2018-19; Olympic, 2020
Mailey at Northeastern