D&C: Two-time gold medalist Meghan Musnicki ’05 competes in the Tokyo Olympics


Meghan Musnicki couldn’t shake it – although she needed a break after winning her second Olympic gold medal in 2016. Retiring from rowing didn’t take long, however.


“I knew I had to take a year or two off but the whole time I was itchy to go back,” said Musnicki, 38.

Born in Naples and a graduate of Canandaigua Academy, she began her rowing career almost two decades ago at Ithaca College.

She won gold with the women’s eight team in the in London Olympic Games 2012 and won a second gold when the women’s eighth won for the third time in a row Olympic title 2016 in Rio de Janeiro – the eleventh consecutive world title for the US women’s eighth.

“Something very few teams have ever achieved in any sport,” noted Musnicki this year.

Could it get any better?

There were interviews and lectures, discussions with school classes, work as a fitness coach and consultant. Then, in the winter of 2018, it went to San Diego, where the US women’s team (their team) trained for the World Cup. That marked a turning point for them; Musnicki had to get back on the boat.

She expressed her wish to the trainer, who in turn advised her to test the training before signing – as a reminder “how exhausting it is,” recalled Musnicki.

After a month she was more determined than ever and realized, “Yeah, I still like that,” she said.

The 2021 Olympic Games will take place from July 13th to August 8th. Rowing events are scheduled to begin on the morning of July 23rd.

When Musnicki and the other athletes learned in March 2020 that the Olympics would not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “it was a pill that was difficult to swallow,” she said. She didn’t catch the virus even though other athletes weren’t as lucky.

US Women’s 8 teammate Olivia Coffey contracted COVID in April 2020. Also from the Finger Lakes region, coffee returned to Burdett near Watkins Glen to quarantine and recover. Coffey said she contracted the virus in Princeton, New Jersey, where she and the other rowers trained at the Princeton Training Center. Even before he fully recovered, Coffey did not give up on the dream.

“Do I imagine being home next summer and watching the Olympics and okay with it?” she said in April 2020. “No. So will I train? Probably.”

After recovering from a case classified as mild, Coffey, 31, returned to the boat. You and other team members continue training in the countdown to Tokyo.

Musnicki sees the COVID delaying the Olympic Games in a positive light. “The team is so young so having another year is a gift,” she said. The extra time provided a chance “to gain experience, to get more technically solid, a chance to get faster,” she said.

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