Many people figure out what they want to do with their lives in college. University of Miami senior Zach Railey, however, began his search when he was 8 years old after a family friend suggested that he take a two week course on sailing.
When Railey was 14, he stopped playing baseball and tennis to focus solely on sailing.
This month, Railey became the top-ranked sailor in the United States and has a chance to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
“When you are trying to go at a level that I am at, you have to pick your own sport and stick with it,” Railey said.
Juggling school, training and competition is quite difficult for Railey. Besides the full-time job of being a student, Railey spends five days a week in the gym and training on his boat. Training can begin as early as 6:30 a.m.
“When everyone else is going out on Thursday or Friday night, I’m home doing school work,” Railey said.
His boat type, Finn, is one of 11 Olympic-style boats used in sailing. A Finn is a one-person boat; the United States only sends one person to the Olympics.
Railey will compete internationally after graduation in May until the middle of November. The most important event is the U.S. Olympic Trials in Oct. 2007. The only catch is Railey must finish first among the 50 participants in this eight-day event to have his boat sent to Beijing.
“You can do four years or work, but if you don’t perform at the trials, you don’t get to go to the Games,” Railey said.
In Railey’s first international ranking event for 2006, he finished 11th. Once Railey competes in more events over the summer, he will acquire enough points to be ranked in the top 20.
Railey has traveled a long road to arrive where he is at today. Now that he is graduating, he can devote his time to training and competing for the chance to go to Beijing.
While Railey might have missed out on some activities that accompany being a normal college student, he is enjoying the ride way too much to stop.
“I don’t regret missing out on those things,” Railey said. “I know I have gained other experiences that some people may never have in their life.”
For more information, visit www.ZachRailey.com.
Denis Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.