St. Mary's College graduate Farrah Hall, 30, is competing in the London Olympic games. (Photo courtsey of: US Olympic Sailing Team)
St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate Farrah Hall, founder of the St. Mary’s College Windsurfing Club, hopes to sail to glory in London during the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Hall graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2003.
Hall qualified for the US Women’s RS-X Windsurfing Class by virtue of finishing second among the countries that had not already qualified for the Olympics at the RS-X World Championships in Spain back in March.
“I was really elated, and it seemed unreal especially because I knew I was qualified after only half of our final event (in March),” Hall said about making the Olympic team. “Now that I'm here, I'm getting down to business preparing for our regatta. I feel deserving of being here and I'm really proud to represent everyone back home.”
She had qualified for the team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when her spot was handed to another competitor. Despite that setback, she continued to train and continued to finesse her technique to improve. The road to London for any athlete consists of a strict fitness regimen and repetitive motion and repetitive competition so the very best athletes can arrive in peak performance mode.
Now that Hall has qualified, she knows the next challenge is beating the best at their best on the world’s biggest stage. Hall admits there is pressure, though that pressure has to be put aside if she will be an Olympic champion.
“There is always some pressure, but I and other athletes have strategies to deal with it,” she said about competing in the Olympics and the pressure of competition. “We're also really well trained - I have spent a lot of time at the Olympic sailing venue over the past four years and am really familiar with the conditions. I will settle into a planned routine during the Olympic regatta and it should be comparable to another high-level event.”
Hall, now 30, has been windsurfing since she was a teenager.
“It's sort of a long story,” she said. “As a teenager I always enjoyed being on the water and had recently learned to sail. A high school boyfriend brought an old windsurfer to my house, and we were entertained for hours trying to sail it. After high school, I worked for a windsurfing rental shop on Martha's Vineyard, where I learned the basics of windsurfing. In my sophomore year, I started a windsurfing club at St. Mary's College, and during my junior year, an Olympian windsurfer, Mike Gebhardt, came to speak with the club and the sailing team. This put windsurfing as an Olympic sport on my radar, and because I was already into competitive endurance sports like swimming and running, learning how to compete in windsurfing was a natural next step.”
Hall says growing up in Annapolis and attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland made the Olympic dream possible.
“If I hadn't grown up in Maryland I wouldn't be doing this right now. Growing up near the water and in the area exposes you to a lot of ways to enjoy the water, and to a lot of people who just love to do anything and everything in any kind of boat. As a young teenager, learning about boats was fascinating and fun and I went through a period where I was completely obsessed with sailboats - it was an adolescent way of branching out to learn things my family didn't normally do. Going to St. Mary's College was just a continuation of that interest. Because there wasn't a running team at St. Mary's and there is a fantastic waterfront, windsurfing and sailing became even more accessible to me. If I hadn't begun to shift my focus from running to windsurfing, the Olympic opportunity would never have opened for me.”
Now that she has sailed in to the Games of the XXX Olympiad, the next chapter begins in London as she hopes to sail to the top of the podium and bring home a gold medal for the United States.
The first Women’s RS-X race, which Hall will compete in, takes place on Tuesday, July 31st. The event will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com, with coverage beginning at 7am EST, to anyone with a cable subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC.