To compete in the Olympics is an impressive feat on its own, but to be completing a Masters in Dietetics at the same time would seem impossible.
Except Monash University student Linden Hall managed to achieve it: she was the third Australian woman to qualify for the Olympics in the 1500m.
In the lead-up to the Olympics, the 25-year-old continued her studies. Prior to starting her course at Monash, Hall had just returned from the US where she spent four years studying on a sports scholarship at Florida State University.
Her personal best in her last competition in her college career was 4:15.51. But she later slashed this time to 4:10 in Europe.
Amazingly, Hall continued to defy her record times this year. She returned to the US for a competition stint where she ran a time of 4:04.47, making a six-second personal best. And it was only a short month later that she beat this again in the Prefontaine Diamond League in Eugene, USA, with a time of 4:01.78.
“After my 4:04 run a couple of weeks ago people were talking up me breaking the Australian record and I thought they were losing it. I was like, don’t be stupid. I’m stoked to have improved my personal bests as much as I have this year, but with it not too far away now I am starting to see it,” Hall told Olympics Australia.
This effort fast-tracked her from 22nd to third on the Australian all-time list, where she sits only less than one second from the national record of 4:00.93 held by Sarah Jamieson.
She achieved all of this without giving up or deferring her Masters degree at university.
“She still attended lectures this year. I think it’s absolutely amazing that she was able to train and make it to Rio while studying at the same time,” says fellow dietetics student Simone Abley.
Hall made it to the semi-finals in Rio, where she ranked 13th overall and was the highest placed Australian. She missed the final by one spot and 0.21 of a second.
But at the tender age of 25, simply being the third best female 1500m runner in Australia is an amazing accomplishment in itself.
Hopefully we will see Linden again in Tokyo in 2020.