East Lansing, Mich. — Emily Regan, a 2010 Michigan State graduate and 2010 Big Ten Rower of the Year, has captured an Olympic gold medal, the first for a product of MSU’s rowing program.
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Regan, who has been in residence with US Rowing since her graduation, learned that she would be rowing in Rio in June. The US Women’s eight is one of the most prolific dynasties in Olympic history, capturing their third consecutive gold medal and 10th consecutive World Championship with Sunday’s victory. The Red, White, and Blue were clocked in 6:01:49, two seconds ahead of second-place Great Britain. While the US sat in third at the settle (trailing early leader Canada), the US boat never panicked, taking over first place just after the 1,000 meter mark and never looked back, methodically building it’s lead to capture the Gold. Romania finished third to take bronze.
More than 100 alumni, friends, and families of the MSU rowing program gathered at the North End Zone Engagement Center at Spartan Stadium to cheer on Regan, while alumni around the globe checked in via cell phone, text, and social media. The Spartan faithful had plenty to cheer for, as Regan – who dreamed as a child of competing at the Olympics and walked on to the rowing team at MSU saw her dream become a reality.
Perhaps the most pride in the room came from MSU head coach Matt Weise, who took a high school basketball player and former swimmer and helped forge her path as an elite international rower.
“Rowing is a bit of a different sport – we often say that there’s a lot of young athletes out there who are rowers and don’t know it.,” said Weise. “We do a lot of on-campus recruiting of former high school athletes who maybe didn’t have exposure a rowing program in their community or at their high school. That’s how Emily Regan became a part of our program. She went from a walk-on to Big Ten Rower of the Year, and won three straight Big Ten championships. She earned her way onto the US U-23 team, and then began residency with the national team. What we saw today in that six-minute race was the culmination of 10 years of incredibly hard work and sacrifice.
“This was a hard-earned victory – the level of success that US Rowing has enjoyed over the last decade doesn’t make it any easier for the athletes,” continued Weise. “For us here at Michigan State, it was an amazing thing to watch. That gold medal going around her neck, that determination and toughness – it was just such an emotional and exciting thing for all of us to see her achieve her goals. She is an amazing representative of Michigan State and our program.”