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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