By Abigail Parker
Most of the world remembers how much they love the Olympic Games only when the Visa “Go World” commercials start coming out during the buildup to the Olympics. However, for thousand of athletes, the Olympic dream is part of their lives for years leading up to the event. This Olympiad, Winsor had its own olympian: Gevvie Stone, the US single sculler.
Gevvie graduated from Winsor in 2003 after winning the USRowing Club National Championships in Winsor’s first four in 2002 and 2003. Since then, she has rowed for Princeton University and on various National Teams. In 2011, she went to the World Championships as the US single and placed 11th, missing Olympic qualification for the boat, but at the end of May, she qualified for the Olympics at the final Qualification Regatta in Switzerland.
Gevvie is the first Winsor graduate to go to the Olympics. She finished seventh among all the women’s singles at the Olympics. This means that while the first through third finishers in each semifinal raced in the grand final for the medals, Gevvie raced in the petite final for the fourth through sixth finishers from each semifinal and won that race. Recently, The Panel asked her a few questions about her experience.
What was it like rowing at the Olympics? How did you feel about your races?
How to describe racing at the Olympics? I don’t know if I can capture how incredible it was for me. It literally was a dream come true: to race on the biggest stage against the fastest women in the world and to do it in a country that LOVES rowing knowing that I had fantastic support back home. And, to have the opportunity to race as fast as possible just for the sake of racing as fast as possible. It was the first time in years for me that nothing hung on my result–not making the team, not qualifying a spot for the Olympics, etc. I got to go out on the course and enjoy the opportunity to race my heart out.
In my final, I had my “great” race. In the heats, quarters, and semis, I had good races, but I knew that I could do better and had something extra to give. In particular, I was disappointed after my semi-final race. Despite a very tough field, I had hoped to make the A final, and I had weaknesses in how I handled my rowing mentally and technically. But, in the final, I was able to race my best race of my life (thus far). I was really happy about that. I’m still really happy about that.
Do you have any other fun stories from London?
Oh man, lots of fun stories from London! I could tell stories that started the second my Dad and I stepped off the plane to find two men in pink shirts waiting for us so they could lead us through Heathrow around passport control to the special no-wait Olympian passport control and ended with the special temporary (3 days!) terminal that Heathrow built for Olympian departures. It had fake marble poster-board around the metal detectors and actors dressed as Buckingham Palace guards. In between, I went through US team processing where I got to get fitted for opening and closing ceremonies gear by Ralph Lauren employees and then got gifted two giant bags full of Olympic clothing. At the course and at the rowing satellite village, I ate meals with rowers from all over the world. I got to build two custom pairs of Oakleys. After rowing was over, I got to go to other events and cheer on other US athletes at women’s basketball, water polo, beach volleyball and track & field. I walked through the tunnel at Closing Ceremonies into the roar of the stadium. I could go on and on.
Would you say that anything from your time at Winsor has influenced you? Do you ever think back to high school?
I was just at dinner with three friends from Winsor, and I still stay in touch with many of my classmates, so I guess my answer would be, of course I think back to Winsor! I am a member of the “8 year club”, and who I am now has been very much influenced by the school. (That includes my retyping the previous sentence in order to avoid splitting the verb phrase.) A few important things that come to my head: I learned how to be a leader from my experience in clubs, on teams, and during group projects. I learned skills of time management. I learned to speak up and to ask questions. I learned about friendships and how to build friendships that would last. I learned how to challenge myself in the classroom and in athletics. I learned about making mistakes and about how to learn from them. That list could go on for a while. To add some lighter lessons, I also learned to love the Red Sox and oldies music and always to have a box of brownie mix in the cupboard just in case.
What are your plans for the future? More racing?
For now, I’m back at Tufts med school immersed in my third-year rotations. Much more time using my brain and much less time using my quads. I’ll graduate in 2014. Then, we’ll see. I’m thinking about Rio 2016. As of now, I’m not ready to be done with rowing and racing.
At the Head of the Charles Regatta on October 20 and 21, Gevvie raced both in the Women’s Championship single and the Women’s Championship Eight. In her single, she won the race, as she has for four out of the past five years. The eight was a boat composed of elite scullers that Gevvie organized from the women that she met competing at the Olympics. They placed second after the US Women’s Eight featuring many of the crew that won gold in London.