From Tabor to Tokyo: Gia Doonan preps for summer Olympics

Jun 16, 2021

ROCHESTER — Gia Doonan has come a long way from Tabor Academy rowing to make her first Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Doonan has been a top rower since her days at Tabor, when she made the top boat her freshman year, and every year after.

“She was already six feet tall when I met her in eighth grade,” Tabor Coach Mike Bentz said, adding that she’s the “type of athlete that would not rest on her given talents.”

“She worked hard every day to make her stroke better,” he said.

Doonan also played basketball and ran cross country at Tabor, and was a College Rowing Coaches Association All-American first team selection three years in a row, from 2015-17, at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a two-time Big 12 conference rower of the year, and a three-time conference champion.

“At every point of my life, I’ve always been involved in competitive sports. That helps me be where I am,” Doonan said. “And my family obviously are a huge part.”

But Doonan is still getting used to the idea that she’s headed to Tokyo.

“It kinda didn’t seem real at first,” she said. “Once we found out, it was just like a few days of excitement and disbelief.”

Doonan said it was a “vigorous process” to determine who from USRowing would be going to the Olympics.

“Just testing ourselves for like a month straight,” she said.

She’s training in New Jersey with her Olympic teammates now, and will head to Hawaii in early July to take a week to acclimate to Tokyo’s heat and humidity.

“In Princeton right now, it’s actually very humid,” Doonan said.

Doonan will be competing against the best in the world in the women’s coxed eight — the largest configuration in traditional rowing competitions — in Tokyo. At the 2019 World Rowing Championships, she was on the US team that took home the bronze.

The USA Olympic Women’s rowing team’s eight has been dominant in recent Olympics, winning three consecutive gold medals since 2008 and four overall. In Tokyo, she and her team will look to put forth their best effort and match those performances.

“And I feel like our best can be good enough to win,” she said.