Naples' Meghan Musnicki wins gold with U.S. Women's Rowing Team
Posted at: 08/02/2012 9:50 PM
By: Robin De Wind | WHEC.com
The Women's Eight Rowing Team faced their biggest challenge Thursday, beating Canada for gold. But for Meghan Musnicki, who grew up in a small town, no challenge is too great.
After watching the gold medal race four years ago, she decided her goal would be London, and even after being cut from the team in 2009, she kept on trying.
"Words can't describe how grateful [I am] to grow up in a town where they do care," Musnicki said.
Musnicki now lives in Princeton, New Jersey, the home of the U.S. Rowing Team. Her spot on the Olympic team is an amazing accomplishment, considering she didn't take up rowing until her freshman year at Saint Lawrence.
"I'm just extremely proud of her for actually achieving this goal she set for herself which, initially, I thought was crazy," Gail Musnicki, Meghan's mother, said.
Meghan looks more like her mother but her competitive spirit is more reminiscent of her father.
"I love the sport. I love winning, I love racing. The competition is in my blood," she said.
Bill Musnicki is providing his daughter with her competitive drive and ambition to win. But Bill would only see his daughter row just once. Sadly, at the age of 49, he suffered a heart attack and died during Meghan's freshman year of college.
"It wasn't the catalyst for the achievement, but she was a reacher and she wanted to achieve things before he died," Gail Musnicki said. "That crystallized everything."
Musnicki transferred to Ithaca College to be closer to her mom. She went on to win two NCAA National Championships and decided to pursue a dream.
"I don't think there was one day where it hit me I could do this," Musnicki said. "It's been the mental fortitude throughout the years. Everyday is not a good day. It's hard to push through the bad days, but if you keep in mind on your own goal, it's worth it."
Musnicki keeps faith in herself with the help of both parents. Her mother is a constant supporter from back home. Her father helps through a bracelet he gave her. After wearing it every day and nearly wearing it out, she melted it into a necklace in the shape of an oar. A touchstone that keeps her safe during rough waters.
"I know that he's watching over me. I think about him at the starting line when I get nervous," she said. "It makes me sad because I wish he was here to watch it, but I know he's watching."