- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The eyes of the world will be on London, England later this month for the 2012 summer Olympic Games.
While the opening ceremonies are taking place, walking amongst the world’s best athletes will be Jesse Kirkland.
Kirkland, a 2010 St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate and four-year sailor while at the school, embarked on a two-year journey alongside his older brother Zander to qualify for the Olympic Games as sailors for Bermuda and that journey reached the pinnacle of success in May when he did just that.
The Kirkland brothers qualified for the Olympics at the 2012 49er World Championships in Croatia and secured the fact that the term Olympian will forever precede their names.
“To be honest, it hasn’t even sunk in even after qualifying for the last month,” Kirkland said. “We put so much work in and it has been a tremendous effort from my brother and I with the help of a lot of supporters from home. I think when we go back for the event and go through the opening ceremony, it will finally hit us.
“For Zander and I, we both have been sailing and racing for as long as we can remember. We have put in so many hours on the water since then. We have gone through world championships and have done this and that … and this is the culmination of all that sailing.”
The Kirklands will race as a two-man team in the Skiff-49er division of Olympic sailing against 19 other national teams, including a United States team, when competition begins at the games. But for the younger Kirkland, he admits that despite sailing for as long as he could remember, the four years spent at St. Mary’s has helped his development.
“Adam [Werblow] and Bill [Ward] and the great network of St. Mary’s sailors down there all contributed to my success,” Kirkland said. “Every one of those practices that we had on the river helped me become the sailor that I am. There are a lot of very talented sailors there that I trained with over the four years.
“Bill and Adam are great coaches and have certainly guided me through a lot of my sailing career. Those were four big years and it’s helped me a lot, both on the water and off.”
The road to the Olympics started in 2010 when the Kirkland brothers had a conversation and realized that certain factors made now the time to go after the Olympics.
“Back in 2009, we talked about it and as soon as I graduated, we thought, ‘Let’s do it. This is the time to do it, before we have full-time jobs, a wife and kids and all of that,’” Kirkland said.
The Kirkland brothers will account for two of the eight total Bermuda Olympic competitors, but that does not take away the fact that come late July and after early August, the two will be Olympians and, in Jesse’s opinion, closer.
Kirkland added that he and his brother can always look at each other and have the shared experience of the last two years in getting to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“Zander and I are five years apart and we didn’t spend much time with each other when we were in our teens, so this has given us the time to get to know each other,” Kirkland said. “Not only that, we have been through so much because the travails of this campaign has pushed us to our limits.”
Now that the two are in the Olympics, only one thing is left to go for, a medal.
“That would be out of this world,” Kirkland said of medaling. “Two years ago when we set our goals, one was to qualify and go to the Olympics and the second one was to not only qualify, but to finish top-10 at the Olympics. If we were to medal, that would exceed all expectations.”
Kirkland will be one of two St. Mary’s sailors to sail in the Olympics.
Mayumi Roller, who took a year off to pursue Olympic interests, will sail for the Virgin Islands in the one-person dinghy-laser radical division.
Roller will return to St. Mary’s this fall.