Gevvie Stone Reaches Olympic Podium

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil – Walking through the Olympic rowing venue in London four years ago, Gevvie Stone and her father, Gregg, stopped to watch New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale win the men’s single sculls final.

“That was amazing,” Stone said then.

The next day, Stone raced in the B final of the women’s single sculls and won, finishing seventh overall. It was, as her father put it on the Olympic Rowing venue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, “the best race of her life, to date.”

Stone didn’t really get a chance to watch Drysdale repeat as the Olympic champion this time. She was getting ready to race in the women’s A final of the 2016 Olympics herself.

This time, this year, instead of being on the shore as a spectator, Stone stood only a few feet away from Drysdale, as the two of them moved through the media interview area. And Stone was the silver medal winner.

For Stone, it was the culmination of four years of work to live her dream of being that good. It wasn’t a gold medal, but to Stone, who not only worked her way up through the ranks of the best women’s single scullers in the world to the Olympic medal podium and also managed to finish medical school and earn the title Dr. Stone, Olympic medalist, it was success.

“I’m on the top of the moon right now.”

After being passed in the last 250 meters in her semifinal Friday by China’s Jingli Duan, Stone held her ground Saturday and finished second in 7:22.92. Australia’s Kim Brennan won in 7:21.54, and Duan was third in 7:24.13.

“She wanted to see if she could do better,” said Gregg Stone, who was also her coach in London. “She got encouragement from people that really know rowing and was able to schedule her last two years of med school to stay in it. I’m so proud of her and how much work she’s put in to get this done. You can’t really separate (being a dad and being a coach). I’m thrilled in every way.”

The Saturday performance was the culmination of two years of momentum that Stone has been building through. She won medals in World Rowing Cup competition, finished fourth at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, where she qualified the boat for Rio. She trained in wind on Boston’s Charles River, her home course, practicing her sprint against masters scullers from the Cambridge Boat Club who helped her become fast and consistent in the important last 500 meters.

She changed her diet and worked with a strength trainer. She wanted to be stronger. She wanted that extra edge, and to be prepared for anything the elements could throw at her, including the wind that made rowing in Rio challenging most days.

“In the thousand, I took a traditional twenty (strokes) for the folks back home and realized how good I felt,” she said.

“At that point, I felt like I was in a good place because my legs just were not feeling it yet. When we hit the cross-chop, I could see everyone else feeling it, and I thought ‘Yes, this is Boston! This is what I want, rough water!’ So I think the middle five hundred was my jam.”

“This weather. This wind. This is classic Boston basin. We got some wind and some wake bounce, and I felt this is my thing. I can row through wakes.”

When Duan rowed through her on Friday in the semi, it motivated Stone. She spent a little extra time during her cool down with coach/dad watching. “She’s not happy,” he said.

When she started down the course Saturday, not long after Drysdale had won, she used everything she has put into the last several years.

When she hit the 1,500-meter mark Saturday, she was in second place and ready for anything the Chinese sculler had in mind.

“I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” she said. “I thought about her at the 1,500, because that was where she walked through me yesterday. She’s not traditionally super fast at the line, but she really makes moves at 1,500. I took at a ten at 1,400 meters, thinking about that and thinking, ‘I am not going to let that happen again.’”

After her race, Stone talked about her coming medical residency, and the application deadlines that are approaching. But for now, she is enjoying what she has accomplished and looking forward to some fun racing in the fall at the 2016 Head of the Charles Regatta, an event she usually owns in the single.

“This couldn’t be a better way to go out. It’s so funny, because they think, ‘oh, the silver medalist must be so unhappy; they didn’t win gold,’ but I am so happy. I could not be happier. Kimmy (Brennan) has been on top, and to be so close to her and to get the silver medal is just amazing.”

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