Gia Doonan had never rowed before her freshman year at Tabor Academy. In fact, she admits that she really didn't know she had special skills until she was getting recruited to be on the University of Texas crew team.

It's hard to stand out on a team sport like crew, but Doonan had some phenomenal erg times (on a rowing machine). It is similar to an NFL player have an exceptional 40-yard dash time.

Instead of coming home and catching up with friends and family during her college summers, Doonan joined the Under 23 National Team and began competing internationally for Team USA. That's where she'd meet many of the other elite rowers from schools across the country.

On the morning of June 3, Doonan showed up with the rest of her team for what she thought was going to be more racing. That's when her coach broke the news.

"She pulled us all together and told us that our names had been submitted to the Team USA nomination committee, then congratulated us, telling us that the nomination was accepted," Doonan said. They would represent the United States in the Olympics. "We all just started bawling our eyes out. It's a moment I'll never forget. Pure happiness."

Doonan's first phone call was to her mom. More specifically, it was a FaceTime. She was able to catch her mom and sister at the same time because her pregnant sister was getting her first ultrasound. Mom, sis, and even the OB/Gyn started crying.

Doonan believes delaying the Summer Games for a year may have given Team USA Crew an advantage.

"I think our team actually got stronger because of it," she said. "With the extra year of training, we're actually faster now. It was kind of a blessing in disguise."

Doonan said that America's crew team are defending gold medalists.

"In fact I think they've won gold for the past three Olympic games," she said.

However, two years ago in the World Championships, prior to COVID, the team raced the same teams they'll be facing in the Olympics and placed third, so Doonan is hoping their faster times will be enough to defend their title.

"I'm honestly just so thankful for all the support. It's really an honor to be from Massachusetts," Doonan said. "We just have a heart for sports. We just have a lot of pride in our sports here in Massachusetts, and that has really helped me get where I am today."

Doonan and Team USA is set to continue their training in New Jersey. They'll finish up by training in Hawaii to better replicate the climate of Japan. Doonan will arrive in Tokyo on July 7.