Beyond Vassar

Going for Gold: Cindy Bishop '92

By Samantha Soper '91

“Dear God, have I ever been in more pain?” wrote Cindy Bishop ’92 on February 4, 2004, in her Weblog ( The discomfort was due to months of intense workouts in pursuit of a spot on the U.S. Olympic rowing team. Four months later, Bishop was forced to write, “Well, it didn’t work out, folks. I had some great races, but have come in second at trials. That means no Olympic qualifier in Lucerne, and no Olympics. I am sad. I grieve.”

Although her Olympic dream did not come true, Bishop learned some valuable lessons about herself and the art of competition. “You do something so many times, you know you can do it. You truly believe in what you can accomplish. That is the beautiful aspect of sport: the blending of the mind and the body.”

Always the athlete (she played soccer and rugby at Vassar), Bishop picked up rowing at the age of 29, after needing to find a sport that would be easier on her badly damaged knee. When she decided to train for the Olympics—which meant a leave of absence from her job and a temporary move from Boston to Augusta, Georgia—family, friends, and her employer supported her completely. “Having health insurance during my time away, and having a job and an income to come back to has been an enormous relief,” said Bishop of her employer, RSA Security, where she is a senior software engineer.

Two months after her disappointment during the Olympic trials, Bishop showed the world her prowess on the river by becoming the first American to win the prestigious, international Henley Royal Regatta of England. “It’s the Wimbledon of rowing … having the Prince of Monaco give me my trophy was pretty cool, too.” When teased with the question, “Beijing in 2008?” Bishop was noncommittal in her reply. “Life has so much to offer, and the training is so all encompassing, that it’s hard to say ‘yes.’” But, she continued, “I can only row competitively for a few more years, so it’s hard to say ‘no.’”