Haiti has fielded only one individual Olympic medal winner in its history – and that was back in 1928. The New York Daily News has an excellent profile on 27-year-old Samyr Laine, who could become the country’s next Olympic winner in men’s triple-jump. Laine was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s freshman roommate at Harvard and hails from Newburgh, N.Y. The Daily News quotes a Haitian Olympic official who describes Laine as a “jewel that has just exploded.”:
Relief filters into Pierre’s cell phone from Haiti’s greatest hope for a medal in the London Games. Samyr Laine, a triple jumper and Newburgh, N.Y. product whose parents emigrated from Haiti in the ’70s, sends regular text messages updating his training. Laine, 27, roomed with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg freshman year at Harvard, holds a Georgetown law degree and boasts the Haitian national record in the triple jump (17.39 meters). He reports his most recent mark from a U.S. Track and Field Regional on June 10 to Pierre: I jumped 16.98 yesterday so everything is going according to plan
Pierre dials Laine’s number and issues a demanding response.
“I need 17.5 for the gold,” Pierre says.
Laine leaps in isolation 1,500 miles away from the United Nations peacekeepers patrolling Haiti with rifles pointed toward the streets. Twice offered a full-time position by Shearman & Sterling, LLP, a firm in midtown Manhattan, Laine deferred both times, honing his hop, bound and jump phases in Lorton, Va. while competing for the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
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