Rock the Boat

When Matt Miller graduated from UVA five years ago, the 2012 Summer Olympics were, in his words, a longshot. A dedicated athlete who joined the rowing team as a high school freshman in Springfield, Miller set his sights on the 2016 summer games.

“There’s no need to rush things,” he says. “Unlike some sports where the peak age of going to the Olympics is maybe 17 or 18, with rowing you can really build that aerobic base until you’re 28 or 30.”

After graduating with a degree in engineering, Miller took a job as a data analyst at DC Energy in Vienna. For about two and a half years he spent most of his time outside the office rowing with the elite team at the Potomac Boat Club. He says he found the training more intense and competitive than his experience on the UVA team, and in 2014 all that work started paying off—he was invited to join the National Rowing Team, which trains at the Princeton National Rowing Association.

Now 27, Miller is in Rio with 40 fellow U.S. rowers, where he’ll compete in the four-man races. (Of the 12 returning Olympians on the team, seven won medals at the 2012 Olympics.)

Miller describes rowing as “one of those sports that really requires you to put in the work”: it’s all about building endurance through long, hard miles on the water. He’s dedicated himself to a rigorous schedule of 20-30 hours of training each week, but is quick to point out that it’s not all about him.

“I’m grateful for not just my own health but for the people around me that support me. Obviously I can’t get here by myself,” he says. “Sometimes I tell people I’ve just been doing what my coaches tell me to do for years. Somehow it worked out for me and for others it didn’t, and I feel really blessed in that way.”

When the Olympics are over, Miller will move back to Charlottesville with his wife, Taylor, where he’ll start classes at the UVA Darden School of Business—and, no surprise—rejoin the university’s club rowing team.

To watch Miller race 2,000 meters with his teammates in the four-man boat, tune in at these times:

7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
7:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12 
June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum