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Thomas HallFlexible programs make winning possible

Making it to the Olympics isn’t easy. Add completing a university degree to the lifestyle of a successful athlete and things get more complicated. But Thomas Hall from Point-Claire, Quebec is working hard to succeed at both his canoeing career and education. 

This past summer, Hall competed in the men’s C-1 1000-metre canoe race at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and won himself and his country a bronze medal. But a strong desire to make some headway in his education led him to enrol in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at Mount Saint Vincent University.

“I know other paddlers who have studied through the Mount,” says Hall. “I heard about the university from a close friend. I wanted to do a business degree, and the Mount offers one exclusively online. Due to my increasingly busy schedule, I knew I needed the option to do courses through correspondence.”

Through the Mount’s Distance Education program, Hall has the freedom to take his school work anywhere he chooses to, whether it be Montreal, Ottawa, Portugal or Beijing. “The Mount allows me to re-start and continue my studies while keeping up with my training and doing the travelling I need to compete,” explains Hall. “I’m looking forward to thriving at both canoeing and academics.”

Canoeing has been a part of Hall’s life since he can remember. His mother was a canoer in the late 1960s, and his family have been members at the Pointe-Claire Canoe Club since 1989. Hall’s sister also competed successfully at the national level. It was inevitable that Hall would also paddle his way to victory. 

Training hard since age 15, Hall says that attitude and confidence are the deciding factors between success and failure. Maintaining a demanding schedule isn’t easy to do, especially when you’re flying somewhere new almost every week, spending at least six months away from home each year. But with a little help from family, friends, trainers and the Mount, Hall manages to stay on top of his game.

His determination to succeed has led him to many first place victories in various C-1 1000-metre canoe events including the World Junior Championships in 1999 and the World Cup in 2004. In 2008, Hall was titled Overall World Cup Champion, but his biggest and most rewarding triumph that year was attending the Olympics.

“Nothing was as surreal as when I discovered I’d be at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” explains Hall. “My event is one with a long tradition and a long line of Canadian canoers; to simply be racing was an honour.”

Hall will continue to train and race world-wide, and is eager to compete in London in 2012. By that time, he hopes to have a Mount degree placed next to his many accomplishments and medals. “We’re not here very long, and we don’t get a second chance, so lets not waste too much time floundering about and get something worthwhile done,” says Hall.