Resetting The Standard: Leah Fair

The She-Suite Magazine Highlight

As a track star, Leah Fair was one of the fastest athletes in the nation and had high hopes of becoming an Olympic competitor. But when injury struck, she had to improvise or lose her chance at being an Olympian. Her secret to adapting to life’s curveballs? Keeping an open mind. “One-way thinking, in my case, would not have been beneficial to receive all the blessings that were declared to be mine. It’s not easy … When I first became injured, I went into a very deep depression. I couldn’t walk for eight months, I watched my teammates make the Olympics games from TV at home on the couch, and I sat in my misery for a while.” She was down and out, but something told Leah not to give up. “Every day I became stronger and realized that it is in our lowest moments when we get broken down that lead us to our greatest breakthroughs. I realized for so long I was adamant about strengthening my physical body, but I neglected my brain.”  She shares an invaluable piece of advice for women facing adversity: “Adversity will happen. You can not escape it; the way you respond and grow from the adversity will groom you into the person you were created to be — your best and highest self.”

Drawing inspiration from women athletes such as Alyson Felix, Marion Jones, Florence Joyner, and Carmelita Jeter — athletes who were “were fearless, beautiful, and owned the room” — Leah Fair transformed a dark situation into a tool to achieve her goals and prove that setbacks are nothing more than opportunities waiting to be taken. For now, Fair is in a season of transition to hone the small details of her craft in order to yield a remarkable performance in the future.

Full Interview

  1. Do you derive your sense of purpose from your work and trainingor is it something else that motivates you?

Earlier in my sport career I derived my sense of purpose and/or worth, from my work. It wasn’t until later that I realized -when I used my work as my source it left me feeling empty. When I competed well and earn accolades I was on a high feeling like I owned the world, and when the opposite happened, when I didn’t meet the expectations I had for myself or what society had for me, I crumbled. I came to the realization that I needed a deeper anchor to keep me grounded, a deeper source to find my identity and my motivation. That motivation is God. I came to the understanding that my work and purpose are not related but while ‘in my work’ I can live my purpose, which is to share the ministry of Christ. Christ uses me in Track and Field and in Skeleton to show the true testimony that no matter how broken you “think” you are, or how much the world tells you, “you can’t” the truth is, you absolutely CAN and have everything you need to Succeed.

  1. How would you describe the standard for women athletes and what are you doing to redefine that standard for the better/in aunique way?

The standard for women athletes in sport has definitely come a long way since 20 years ago. The shift in female athletics has taken a total change to higher revenue income, equality, and increased medal opportunity. As with any underrepresented community, there is always more work to be done. I redefine the standard in a unique way to add the change I would like to see. I believe that woman have the capability to have femininity and athletic dominance coexist. In the traditional standard, women in athletics have been labeled as tomboys, manly, and to not posses ideal ‘womanly bodies.’ As a female athlete I embrace my femininity, my ‘sexiness’, and everything else it means to live in my true identity. I stand strong in who I am and pour into other athletes, especially female women who have been criticized for not fitting into societies ideals of female athletes. I wear cute matching athletic sets, I put on makeup before races, I wear long nails, eyelash extensions, and I embrace every inch of my curves. I want to convey the message that woman are allowed to be ‘sexy’, muscles are attractive, and females have the opportunity to be who they are unapologetically.

  1. What female athletes inspired you or paved the way for your athletic career/ success?

Growing up I was a Track and Field, I did not begin Skeleton until my adulthood. The primary athletes that inspired me were Alyson Felix, Marion Jones, Florence Joyner, and Carmelita Jeter. These female athletes carried every attribute that I aspired to have, they were fearless, beautiful, and they owned the room.

  1. What do you think is the most important quality you should possess in order to achieve your goals?

As ironic as it may seem, the most important quality to possess while competing in the most difficult sport in the world is a ‘calm mind.’ Having a calm mind allows me to tackle every obstacle and any adversity with grace.

Every failure, setback, and breakdown allows me to become one set closer to my setup. Life will hand us many troubles, but it’s the response to the trouble that allows us to grow and move forward. In order to achieve any goal, it starts in the mind.

Leah Fair

Once you are able to control and discipline the mind, the world will become your playground. Did you know that you can have anything you want?

  1. It’s not uncommon for an athlete to sustain an injury and find another sport to compete in as they recover. For you specifically,it would appear that your ankle injury was the catalyst you needed to find weightlifting and bobsledding. Do you think this mindset of being open to change and transformation has helped you to achieve your goals even if they may not have been the ones you initially set for yourself? Also, do you think this mindset is something everyone should use to reset and succeed in their pursuits in the face of adversity?

Yes, I believe that having an open mindset is crucial to being able to adapt to all the challenges and curveballs that this world brings. ‘One-way thinking’ in my case, would not have been beneficial to receive all the blessings that were declared to be mine. It’s not easy, all my life I believed that I would go to the Olympics in Track and Field, I had no idea that I would ever even compete in a Winter Sport (I hate the COLD!). When I became injured, this was the first time in my life it had ever happened. I have never had a broken bone, had surgery, or even a sprained ankle up until this point in my life! When I first became injured I went into a very deep depression. I couldn’t walk for 8 months, I watched my teammates make the Olympics games from TV at home on the couch, and I sat in my misery for a while. There was an underlying small fire in my heart that was barely there, but still there. Every day I became stronger and realized that it is in our lowest moments when we get broken down that lead us to our greatest breakthroughs. I became mentally stronger during this recovery period. I started to read different books every day, I started meditation, yoga. I became more organized and started to go back to the gym and just work upper body with my boot on! I realized for so long I was adamant about strengthening my physical body but I neglected my brain. Yes, I do believe that mindset is extremely important when facing adversity in the pursuit to achieve your dream. Adversity will happen, you can not escape it, the way you respond and grow from the adversity will groom you into the person you were created to be. Your best and highest self.

  1. How do you find balance and inner focus/wellbeing when training and striving for a place in the next Olympics?

This is a quality I am still working on! It’s a daily battle and struggle, but I have come to the understanding that to be great at anything takes practice. I write daily affirmations in my journal to start of my day. I look myself in the mirror and say “you are strong, you are beautiful, you are worthy, you are capable” even if I don’t believe it in that moment. I allow my subconscious mind to be saturated in positive thoughts. As humans, our negative thoughts greatly outweigh our positive thoughts on average, that’s why I make a conscious effort to be gentle and kind to myself. While training for the Olympics, I wish I could say there was a definitive balance, but for me, there isn’t. Most athletes training for the Olympics are laser-focused we eat, sleep, and train. I am excited for the post-normal life after this journey is complete.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self, for our She-Suite Community to take into consideration?

I would tell my younger self that the breakthroughs in life come “little by little.” I would tell her to have grace and to enjoy the days that don’t seem beautiful because life in itself is a gift. I would urge my younger self to release the idea that “she” is in control, because she isn’t. This world/ universe/ God -has complete sovereignty meaning he has lived in time from the beginning, middle, and tp the end. Our days are already written and we are all covered. I would tell my younger self to lean my trust into the Lord in every area of my life and to be kind to others even when it feels difficult to do so.

  1. It was stated that you’ve seen the power of the She-Suite Community as it was a catalyst for you to be recognized as America’s Next Olympic Hopeful. So, how did the She-Suite Community influence your dedication and help you achieve your goal of being recognized by the Olympics?

Before attending the She-Suite Community, I had not established myself as an athlete. I was a recent graduate from Colorado State University still striving to make a USA Team. I networked with Melissa and attended the event and since then my life has been changed. At the She-She Summit Leadership conference, I learned what it means to be a woman-leader in the community. That may be cooperate for some, CEO’s, or Business owners, but Melissa showed us how to turn our passion/and or dream into profit and reality. Being in her presence and hearing her speech unleashed a hidden dream in me that I didn’t believe I was qualified to accomplish. During the conference Melissa said “We have all the idea’s and dream in our head, but that’s where they’re stuck in our head!” She emphasized the importance to write down your goals, and to develop a concrete plan to get there. I soaked in every ounce of advice and leadership traits she displayed and applied it to my own life. Two months later I made the USA Team. During the conference, I was able to be surrounded by greatness including Toke Vanderbolt, and Laura Schwab I had never in a million years thought that I would be having to cause conversation with women of this status. This conference gave me a different sense of identity and confidence. When I left, I was more ready than ever to attack my goals.

  1. What would you say sets you apart from your competition and even your idols? Essentially, how are you resetting the standard and making a name for yourself in the process?

I believe we are all uniquely made. There is only one “Leah Fair,” just like there is only one “you.” I take pride in being uniquely crafted by the Creator. Me personally I do not have idols, because I don’t believe in societal hierarchy. This isn’t the ego, but self-love, I love myself deeply, it starts from within. What separates me from my competitors is what’s between the ears. If we all have the same training, same muscle build, and same capabilities, the person who is going to “win” is simply the one who believes they will.

  1. What’s next for you and when will we see you winning your first Olympic medal as a determined and amazing woman powerhouse athlete?

I am in a season of transition. I have gone into what athletes call “silent mode” in order to work on the small details of my craft to yield a remarkable performance. I am projected for the 2026 Milan Italy Winter Olympics in Bobsled and Skeleton, but also look out for me in Track and Field at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. “The world is your oyster, and I’m just playing in it.” Leah Fair

Follow me on my social channels FB, Twitter, and Instagram at @LeahfairUSA