Michaela Talks World Rowing Championships 2019

Athlete for Yoga Michaela Copenhaver raced the Rowing World Championships in August as part of the USA Women’s Lightweight Quad. They placed 4th in a harrowing race and Michaela talks about the build up, struggling to process just missing the podium, and what’s next in her Olympic Team pursuits. This is truly a must-read.

Your team seemed to have amazing position energy. How was the build up together?

From the start, we committed to being a team. It was an easy commitment to make and hard to keep. We had to get to know each other in our lowest moments, and love each other through the fatigue and discomfort. But we kept our commitment to each other, and it made us all better people and athletes. For me, personally, I had to learn to be vulnerable and to trust the athletes around me to do the best for them, even when they did it differently from me. I also had to learn to stay true to myself even when surrounded by a group of incredible women.


You had your sights on the podium as a team. And the race was HOT. Germany inched into 3rd and you fought back twice. Can you recap the race a bit for us?

All season, we’ve had a fast first 100 meters, so it came as a big surprise when we were down, a lot, by 200m into the race. We spent most of the race clawing our way back into contention for a medal. We were back and forth with Germany for much of the race, and very much in the hunt for third as we came into the last 200m of the course. With less than 100m to go, right in front of the grandstands, my blade clipped a buoy and I lost control of my oar for two strokes. We almost managed to get ourselves back level with Germany, but we couldn’t recover the lost speed in time. We lost the race off the start, but we were a good enough crew to get it back. To then lose it again in the final moments was one of the most painful experiences in my rowing career.


That’s so hard — how are you doing now?

A week (the time of this interview) isn’t enough time to process the anger and disappointment and confusion that comes with a fourth place finish. I’ve been able to find some positives in the experience, which is helping me cope, but the pain of our result still comes in waves. Mostly, I’ve been trying to be present and give myself the space to create a better perspective on the racing. When the waves of emotion crash down on me, I use some of the meditative breathing techniques to ground myself, so I can observe my emotions rather than fester in them.

How did you use Jasyoga in the build up and race week?

We traveled a LOT this summer. It was so important to be able to get right back to training after several 20 hour travel days, and I used the Full Body Mobility and How to Hit Reset Anytime, Anywhere videos a lot. Having set routines was also really important when everything around me was changing. Being able to come back to the same videos and check in with myself in that way helped me get through a tough summer of training.

How WILL you optimize your post-season?

I’ve just gotten back to the US after a week with family in Europe. I’ll take a few weeks back home to relax, process the season through journaling and talking to my sports psychologist, and get myself mentally and physically ready for the upcoming work. Last year, I didn’t take enough of a break between seasons and paid for it mid-winter with some mild burnout.

What's the next step in the 2020 plan?

I need to sit down with my coach and figure out next steps. The US failed to qualify the lightweight double for the Olympics, so will need to qualify it next spring. Fall and winter will be spent getting faster and fitter, and finding a partner I can trust to perform on race day.

You can find Michaela online at lightweighteats.com and learn more about her and her favorite Jasyoga videos on her Athletes for Yoga profile. Be inspired by her training and racing on Instagram @lightweighteats and Twitter @lightweighteats.

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