After seeing recruiting flyers for the rowing team, I emailed the coach and began to row my sophomore year. Something clicked with rowing. For the first time I didn’t just have ‘potential,’ I was actually excelling! By the end of my novice year of rowing, not only had I made a splash on the rowing team, but I made an incredible group of friends, and even made Dean’s list! Throughout my years at Penn, I continued to do well with rowing and academics; I graduated in 4 years with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminology, and earned All-American honors in rowing. After I graduated, I decided to decline job offers in pursuit of my Olympic dream. It was worth it... I have met some incredible people along the way, traveled all over the world and in 2008 I became an Olympic gold medalist!
I was born in Szeged, Hungary and moved to the US with my parents when I was 2 years old. My parents are very tall people and so it wasn’t surprising that by the time I was in high school, I was 6’2’’ with a relatively athletic frame. Needless to say, many coaches at my high school tried to recruit me to play almost every sport imaginable except gymnastics. I’m usually up for anything, so I tried my hand at various sports. I didn’t excel at any of them but I learned that sports were a great way to make friends and manage my time. Consequently, I left high school with a lot of friends and a great GPA. I decided to continue my education at the University of Pennsylvania in 2000. Even though Penn is the ‘social Ivy’, I knew that the courses and work load would be demanding, so, I decided that the best solution to this problem was to cut sports out of my schedule. Bad idea. After my first semester, my grades were struggling and my social life was getting a little tired.
After the Olympics in 2008, I wasn’t sure about my future and whether I wanted to continue rowing. In the middle of job hunting, my coach sent out a boat to Chula Vista in case I decided I wanted to row again. On a whim, I decided to go out for a row. I couldn’t have been any happier! Rowing is what I was meant to do. I am so glad I had that epiphany because it led to a whole new series of adventures over the next 4 years. I challenged myself in the pair with my crewmate Erin Cafaro and won a World Championship gold and bronze. In 2011 I went back into the 8+ after missing the speed and companionship of a big boat. Though we won, I struggled with some injuries including a herniated disc and a stress fracture on my rib. The year leading up to the Olympics was one of the most stressful years of my life but I’m glad I struggled through it and fought hard to make the team. In the end it made me tougher and the Gold medal that we won at the Olympics in London that much sweeter.