Senior Valen Fey represented the United States and took home a bronze medal in the women’s eight boat at the World University Rowing Championships in Shanghai Sunday.
The U.S. squad clocked in at 6.22.32, about three seconds behind the first-place Great Britain team and less than one second behind the second-place boat from Canada. China and Italy also raced in the event.
For the biennial competition, countries curate teams of college athletes to race on an international stage over three days. This year, 397 student-athletes from 19 countries competed in Shanghai.
The U.S. women’s team was comprised of 15 rowers from 12 universities including Columbia, Rutgers and Fordham, which competes against GW in the Atlantic 10.
Fey said when she arrived in Ypsilanti, Mich. at the beginning of the summer for training, it was difficult to work with athletes from different schools and training backgrounds. After three months of working out together twice each day, the team learned to gel as they headed into competition, she said.
“We are so powerful together, it gives me the chills when I get in the boat,” Fey said. “Although we all come from different programs, we all want the same thing and that’s what keeps us going.”
This year’s competition in Shanghai marked the first time the event was held outside of Europe since it began in 1984. Fey said training for conditions in China posed additional challenges because of the humid climate and 12-hour time difference from their training facility in Michigan.
Last season at GW, Fey and the women’s rowing team finished in third place overall at the A-10 Championship.
Heading into the upcoming season, the team is without a head coach as Eric Carcich, who formerly led the Colonials, resigned from his position in July to accept the head coach job at Cornell.
Fey said although the squad was unable to secure a first-place finish, her experience representing the United States gave her a new drive that she will bring back to campus in the fall.
“Learning I made the team and now having trained all summer with my team has given me a new confidence in my abilities and where I can go from here,” Fey said. “I have a newfound momentum that is so exhilarating.”