Kara Kohler | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile

Team USA rower Kara Kohler shares how she went from a novice to an Olympics medalist, finding success on the water and overcoming adversity.

Video Transcript


KARA KOHLER: I'm a rower. I grew up in Clayton, California. I started rowing when I was 18 during my freshman year at Cal-Berkeley. Formerly, previously, I was a swimmer and had dreams of swimming collegiately, but that dream was redirected when somebody suggested rowing to me. I knew nothing about the sport. So I was a walk on, had no experience.

Found success pretty quickly, mostly through the ergometer. I don't know if anyone's familiar with, but that's the rowing machine. And that's really what gave me the opportunity to then step into the national team environment within-- by 2011, so after my sophomore year I got the opportunity to join the national team in the year leading up to London. Took a year off school and that's when I ended up in my quad-- quadruple sculls-- that won a bronze medal.

So it was a whirlwind to the podium going from a novice to an Olympic medalist in just under three years. Went back to school and graduated. And then struggled quite a bit and ended up not making the Rio team, so didn't make a team for three years. And that's really has been my primary driver the past couple of years to make the Tokyo team. Those failures, [LAUGHS] not making the team for three years. Luckily, I have found success in the single and made the team just a couple of weeks ago in the women's single scull.