Emily Morley, a senior on the Ithaca College women's crew team made history on Thursday as the Bahamas Olympic Committee formally announced that Morley will become the first person to represent the Bahamas in the sport of rowing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this summer.
Morley, who serves as a co-captain on the women's crew team this season, began an Olympic-style training regimen in November 2015 in anticipation of the FISA Americas Olympic Continental Qualification Regatta in Valparaiso, Chile, which took place in March. During qualifying races, Morley posted numerous personal-records and ultimately earned a spot in the B final where she rowed to a personal-best time and a fourth place finish. She placed 10th overall through four races.
"I'm still in shock, but I've been smiling all day," said Morley after learning the news. "I'm incredibly honored to have been chosen and I cannot wait to represent the Bahamas, Ithaca College and especially all of those who have supported me throughout this whole experience. This summer is going to be great!"
Despite not qualifying for Rio outright with a top-six finish in the qualification process, Morley was granted a universal at-large spot by the World Rowing Federation after the BOC petitioned FISA to allow her to represent the Bahamas based on her strong performances in Chile.
"People were really rooting for her," said head coach Becky Robinson, who has piloted the Bombers to two national championships and has coached Morley for the last four years. "She was definitely noticed as a newcomer to be reckoned with."
Robinson, a two-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Coach of the Year honoree, along with sculling coach Beth Greene, have been instrumental in shaping Morley's sculling skills to the point where she has been able to perform on the international stage.
"We are training people to be their best and we're not letting the title of Division III get in our way to achieving national success," said Robinson. "Both Beth and I have experienced some higher level rowing and we bring that into what we do while coaching."
Morley will be joining a select list of student-athletes from Ithaca to have gone on to compete on the international stage. Mary Obidinski and Taylor Goetzinger were each members of the U.S. National Team while Peg Mallory and Meghan Musnicki competed in the Olympics after having built their foundations at Ithaca. Musnicki is considered one of the world's best after having earned 13 medals on the international stage including 10 gold medals.
Both Robinson and Greene, who is in her sixth year with the program, know what it takes to row at the highest levels having been a part of the U.S. National team as well. Robinson was a member of the team in 1991 and nearly had the opportunity to represent the United State in the Olympics, while Greene competed in several national team time trials.
Rowing begins on Saturday, August 6 and continues through Tuesday, August 9 with medal rounds beginning on the 10th.
Check out some other material surrounding Emily's quest to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games: