SBM Inspiration: Samyr Laine Discusses Haiti and His Journey to the 2012 Olympics

 I had a chance to catch up with triple jumper, Samyr Laine, a 2012 Olympian looking to bring home the first individual medal for Haiti since 1928. His path to London is both amazing and inspirational. This article is his story and thoughts on what it took to make it to the 2012 Olympics and what it means to represent Haiti. Enjoy! -Slim

I first started triple jumping as a junior in high school. This was after being a distance runner in 7th grade and getting cut from the track team in 8th grade. Apparently, distance running wasn’t my calling as far as track and field was concerned. When I returned to the track my junior year of high school, the (new) coach realized that I had a reasonable amount of speed, pretty good leaping ability and long levers (arms and legs), which he thought would make me a good triple jumper. I immediately fell in love with the fluidity and beauty of the event. It also helped that I got to enjoy some small victories early on before my parents took me off the track team that year to focus on school. I rejoined my senior year and the triple jump has been my primary event ever since.

I can’t say that it has always been a dream of mine to compete in the Olympics, although the 2000 Games in Sydney definitely served as the motivation for me to return to track and field.  I didn’t realize I could actually be an Olympian until 2007 when I graduated from the University of Texas and decided to continue with the triple jump while in law school. I did so because I realized that not only did I have more in the tank, but that I could eventually be one of the best in the world. Having no interest in selling myself short, I committed to becoming one of the world’s elite triple jumpers. It helped me put things in perspective as far as my professional life was concerned.

I’ve realized over time that triple jumping isn’t something that I can do forever, and that I have been blessed with the ability to do it at a high level. I also know that I can positively affect many people by doing it. As a result, I feel obligated to at least see how deep the rabbit hole goes. My law degree isn’t going anywhere and the bar exam is behind me now, so I can focus on triple jumping full-time for the first time…ever.

My path to becoming a world class athlete is far from ordinary. While in law school at Georgetown, it was all about compartmentalizing my life. My teachers had no idea I would travel to France, Qatar or Brazil for competitions on the weekend, yet make sure that my work was always on point. In doing so, I was able to pursue excellence in the classroom and on the track without letting one affect the other.

I spent a lot of late nights in the weight room or on the track, only to have to wake up early the next morning to finish assignments, or get them done on my subway ride to school. I studied my craft as an athlete the same way that I studied the law. I also made the necessary lifestyle changes (diet, sleep/rest regimen, etc.) to ensure that I’d be in optimal position to reach the goals I’d set for myself. In fact, much of what I’ve done these past few years is learn how to (really) triple jump and apply what I’ve seen to what I want my body to do. Above all else, I’ve had to train my mind just as much as I’ve trained my body.

The road to London has been riddled with challenges. Obstacles I’ve faced range from something as common as the typical struggle Olympic hopefuls have making ends meet, to convincing sponsors to support my endeavors, to getting cut from the track team way back in junior high school. I can also remember being elected team captain my senior year of college at Harvard and having to sit out due to an injury in my tibiofibular joint. It was a tough experience and rebuilding process. I wasn’t able to compete again until over a year later while I was at Texas, which was a challenge in itself. I opened that season with the #1 jump in the NCAA, but each of my subsequent competitions yielded so many subpar performances to the point that people, including myself, simply figured that I had either lost my “mojo” or just got lucky with that first jump of the year. And through all that, I managed to keep my head up.

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  • Alakaii Hawaii

    *curls right on up in that photo and takes a nap*

    I really wish I could find a whole bunch of people like him and just listen. soak in the positive vibes. It'd be a really good healing process to have all that positive energy swirling around inside me. Harvard, University of Texas, Georgetown. Did he just say he became an Olympic Athlete in his…spare time. to stay in shape. Gods amongst men *do* exist. This was a well written article.

    Woman's interview question: I'm just gonna hug you and cry, cool?

    I wouldn't even be able to do it. I think I'd be one of those sobbing, weeping fans. Smh. Sometimes it's just nice for a black man to hand the world it's arse like that. Pride. and when it rains it's my tears of them. hashtag Mother Nature.

  • Peter Parker

    "Likewise, his belief in the mind’s ability to propel one to great things when faith, diligence, discipline and persistence are the focal point of your life is something I truly believe."

    Co-sign THIS!

  • Tellylonglegs

    ” Haiti is typically in the news for all of the wrong reasons despite the fact that the country’s beauty far outweighs anything else — even after the earthquake.”

    Sooooo true! I can’t wait to see him win a medal.

  • Streetz

    HAITI LETS GO!!!

    Glad to see country of my mothers origin being shed in a positive light, instead of the BS you usually see! Good ish
    My recent post [INFOGRAPHIC] A look at the @WWE and the past 999 Monday Night RAW episodes

  • Bree

    Great story Slim. Very inspiring and positive. I'm sure his country is very proud. He has a great attitude and work ethic so I'm sure he will get this win. Go Haiti!

    • http://www.therealslimjackson.com Slim Jackson

      It's pretty amazing seeing what he's accomplished in the last decade. I used to compete against him (well, his team) in college. Good dude for sure.
      My recent post A Little Inspiration and Positivity for You

  • Ania04

    Long time lurker, first time poster.. great story and Will Smith seems to be a popular source of motivation!

    <iframe width="640" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/q5nVqeVhgQE&quot; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Great Blog!

    • http://www.therealslimjackson.com Slim Jackson

      Thanks for stepping from the shadows to let us know you enjoyed. More of this to come in the future!
      My recent post A Little Inspiration and Positivity for You

      • Ania04

        Had to support true student-athletes! Very proud of him. He definitely has worked for it, he was a BEAST ( actually that entire Jump squad). If I remember correctly, he even red shirted his senior year due to some injury.. call it a comeback!

        Back to the shadows :)

  • WisdomIsMisery

    Great and inspirational story! Always good to hear about people doing big things. Def good luck in the Olympics as well. I like the “when I win a metal” attitude, it’s exactly the one you need to have.

  • Muze

    like… to have a Harvard degree AND go to the Olympics. gangsta.

    like WIM i absolutely love the "when i win a medal" statement. dope.
    My recent post Beautiful, and Other Thoughts.

  • http://www.barronnetwork.com Rex Barron

    This is amazing as a Haitian American i feel so proud! I hope you win and i know were all pulling for you…Can't wait to see that flag in front of the cameras!
    My recent post The ENDZONE-Fantasy Football Podcast Ep 2

  • http://twitter.com/Tracy_Iglesias @Tracy_Iglesias

    It was fantastic meeting you, welcome to the Duane Reade team! Glad you pointed me to this article, his story is truly inspirational!__Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly