Just two weeks before the 2012 Olympics, Gevvie Stone, M14, who qualified to participate in the games in May, begins a mid-morning weight-lifting session at Boston University’s varsity weight room. Even as she warms up, hopscotching up and down a rope ladder on the gym floor and hurling a medicine ball against the wall, her focus is palpable. Beginning July 28, Stone and the 43 other members of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team will compete in 12 events at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake, 18 miles west of London.
For Stone, representing the United States in the Olympics will be the culmination of a goal she first set 12 years ago, as a sophomore in high school. That’s when the Newton, Mass., native first fell in love with rowing on the Charles River. On official leave from the School of Medicine since 2010, Stone has been training full time for London, where she will compete as a single sculler.
“I think every kid who plays sports dreams of going to the Olympics,” she says. By her junior year of college, that dream began to seem attainable. “I started to train more and be in a position where, if I worked hard enough, I would get to where I needed to be.”
During the next hour with her trainer, Glenn Harris, who is also head strength and conditioning coach for all of Boston University’s varsity teams, Stone hoists a 130-pound barbell high above her head in one explosive motion. “Those are super smooth now,” Harris tells her. “That’s what we were looking for—that power.”
Since she began training with Harris last fall, Stone has added enough muscle to her six-foot, 157-pound frame, especially in the upper body, that she feels her clothes fitting a bit tighter.
“My top is much bigger. I still have the smallest legs on the team,” she says, adding that her competitors often mistake her for a lightweight, a class of rower that is capped at 130 pounds. But if Stone is lacking anything in size, her win-loss record suggests her competitive nature more than makes up for it.
“She has so much drive and determination,” says Harris. “It makes my job very easy because she does everything, and she does everything well.”
When the session is over, Stone heads home for lunch and a break. Compared to many world-class athletes, Stone is pretty lenient about her diet. After a routine breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, Stone says she is careful to listen to her body, making sure to eat whenever she feels hungry. She tries to get in as many servings of vitamin-rich fruits and veggies she can. Between meals, trail mix is her energy-dense go-to snack. Ice cream is her daily indulgence and one of several pre-race rituals—the others include wearing a pair of lucky socks and playing computer-based solitaire. She’s not counting, but suspects she requires around 4,000 calories a day, more than twice what the average woman needs.
A few hours later, Stone arrives at Harvard University’s boathouse on the Charles River for her afternoon row, decked out in a white crewneck bearing a modest USA across the chest and blue and red ponytail holders to keep her sun-streaked blond hair off her face. It’s her second row of the day. Most days Stone hits the water for the first time by 6 a.m.
At home on the Charles River, she puts herself through her paces. Without her trainer or her coach—who is her father, Gregg Stone, the top-ranked men’s single sculler in 1980—around, Stone sits alone in her shell and pulls away from the dock, a solitary silhouette in the afternoon sun. It’s a lonesome workout. “I’ve learned that I like being around people,” she says. “It’s a good thing I picked a career [in medicine] where I get to see people every day.”
Though she’s often asked how she manages to balance medical school and training for the Olympics, Stone isn’t quite sure how to answer. She doesn’t know any other way.
“It’s not easy,” she acknowledges. “Some of it is luck, a lot is perseverance. Being a little bit of a perfectionist helps. I want to win. I’m a pretty bad loser.”
For more on the American rowers and how they were selected for London, visit http://www.usrowing.org/Pressbox/2012Olympics.aspx.
Jacqueline Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com.