Olympic Gold Medal Rower
By Brandy White
Growing up Naples, NY Meghan Musnicki, 29, never dreamed she would become a member of a Crew team, let alone becoming a gold medalist.
Having played basketball through high school, Musnicki was planning on continuing at St. Lawrence University until one day she was caught off guard by the rowing coach and asked to try out.
“I thought, why not give it a shot,” said Musnicki. “It was something totally new and different. I had no reason not to try it. I wasn’t going to go into the WNBA. I had nothing holding me back and nothing lose.”
In 2010 Musnicki won the gold in the eight and silver in the pair at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. She helped qualify the U.S. boat for the London 2012 Olympic Games by winning her second gold medal. Rowing in the eight she took her third gold medal and helped to set a world record (5:54.17).
Since her return from London she has found herself to be quite busy. “It’s been a whirl wind of activity,” said Musnicki. “I have been from one speaking event to the next. It’s fun and tiring, but I love it because it’s not going to last forever. It’s eventually going to die down.”
Musnicki explained how she has a lot of fun speaking with the younger generation and giving back to local schools. “They benefit from hearing my story,” said Musnicki. “It’s not easy to speak to the adolescents but I can at least have an effect on them and give them something to hold onto.”
She made a recent visit to the Golisano Children’s Hospital where she got the chance to play and interact with the children. “To them this was nothing ground breaking,” said Musnicki. “I was just a new face playing with them, having fun. It was a fun activity I was happy to do with them. They don’t care about the gold medal, which is honest and refreshing.”
Musnicki was explaining how she met a 17-year-old patient on his 14th round of chemotherapy. “He was so positive and upbeat,” she said. “It puts everything into perspective and makes you think about what really matters in life. He was so excited to go to watch his football homecoming game. I can only imagine the strength it takes everyday. What he is doing is ten times harder than anything I have to do and I respect and appreciate that.”
When home, the athlete can be found baking, reading, listening to music and training at the gym. “I stick to a routine,” said Musnicki. “Working out is part of my routine. It’s not as structured as when I’m training but I’m planning on doing this for four more years and I can’t lose track.”
And losing track she won’t. Musnicki plans on winning a gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio d Janeiro, Brazil. “Up until then I have smaller goals,” said Musnicki. “I need the smaller goals to motivate me, keep me going and give me that extra push. I break down a task or test on any given day.”
Musnicki finds it amazing how far women have evolved in the sports industry. “We just marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX and I can’t
believe how far we’ve come,” Musnicki said. “We are recognized on the same playing field. We’re getting the attention and respect that we deserve.” There are little girls playing soccer at four years old and running on the fields. We didn’t have that twenty years ago. We can now show that we’re strong and powerful and that there is not only one standard of beautiful.”
Throughout her journey, the athlete says her number one supporter is her mother, Gail Musnicki. “She’s been there through it all,” she said. “ There’s been lots of tears along the way but she’s always been there and she’s an amazing woman and a real inspiration.”
Not only does Musnicki have her family and friends for support, she can always count on the fans here in Rochester where she has been a true inspiration.