For Samyr Laine, the 2012 London Olympics were about much more than breaking records and stacking up medals. Competing for Haiti, Laine saw these games as an opportunity for inspiration and an opportunity for change. He wanted to motivate others to rebuild his family’s home country.
Laine, 28, is one of Haiti’s five participants in the 2012 London Olympic games. Laine, competed in the triple jump finals in hopes of winning Haiti’s first medal in 84 years. Though Laine was born in the United States, his parents and extended family emigrated from Haiti. He grew up in New York, eventually attending Harvard University, where he competed and set an Ivy League record in triple jump.
His continued success pushed him toward Olympic competition. Laine, who didn’t even try out for the United States 2012 London Olympic team, said that his interest in representing Haiti in the Olympics increased when he joined the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief effort. According to David Jeannot of NBC, Laine explained, “I want to go there and win a medal because I know that the entire country and the Haitian diaspora, and people on the island itself, they would just be elated. Even without the earthquake from two years ago, it would still be a big deal to give people their hope and to inspire folks.”
After passing the bar exam, Laine put his law career on hold and founded the “Jump for Haiti” foundation, a nonprofit aimed at promoting interest in sports in hope of creating future Haitian Olympic athletes. The goal of the organization is to develop athletes that were born and raised in Haiti. “Jump for Haiti” will include track-and-field camps and after school athletic programs. Laine sees athletics as an opportunity for Haiti to grow. According to Alice Speri of the Wall Street Journal, Laine explained it this way: “So much beauty and potential lies there. The country can do great.”
Laine may not have medaled in this year’s Olympics, but his goal of inspiring others is still very much alive. His story is being told worldwide and his aspirations reach far beyond the sand pit. As Jeannot noted, Laine summed up his mission: “As an athlete you realize that this is a way for me and my teammates to use sport to inspire others to rebuild the country, to do great things.”
Photo Credit: Reuters