Former Harvard triple jump standout Samyr Laine had the jump of his life at the USATF National Club Track & Field Championships at Icahn Stadium in New York City last weekend. Representing the Greater Boston Track Club, Laine took the national crown and the meet record, posting a meet record of 54-10 1/4 and qualify for the World Championships in Berlin (the first major international competition at the Olympic Stadium since 1936). HepsTrack caught up with Laine on Thursday and here’s what he had to say:
Q: 54-10 1/4! Where’d that come from? Have you ever had a mark like that?
A: It was a personal best for me but I’ve been having a good season thus far and have been aiming to hit the World Championships “B” standard (54-7 1/2) since the indoor season. I jumped 54-4 1/2 in mid June at a track where conditions were less than ideal, so I was ready to take advantage of a facility like Icahn Stadium and make the most of the great competition.
Q: How’d you react when you heard?
A: When they announced the distance, it really didn’t sink in until people began running up to shake my hand and congratulate me. On top of that, the jump didn’t feel as far as it came out to, thanks to what I thought was a really short second phase, so I was definitely shocked at first but then relieved and thankful to be able to stop chasing the standard and to have accomplished what was a major goal for this season.
Q: So what is up next athletically now?
A: Next up in the immediate is the World Championships in Berlin. With the “B” standard, I can represent Haiti at the meet in mid-August since I am the only person to hit mark thus far although my training partner and roommate is hoping to qualify as well. Before then the Haitian federation notified me of a meet in Bogota, Columbia which may or may not be a possibility depending on the timing since I am working full time at a law firm in Washington, D.C. at the moment. Either way, I’d like to get one or two more meets in before the Championships even though I don’t anticipate my coach cutting back my training again until early August so that I can peak for the first round of the World Championships. My goal there is to qualify for the finals or at the very least jump 55-9 1/4 (17 meters) which is a major milestone of sorts for all triple jumpers. Beyond this season, I would love to simply continue to improve, even if it’s inch by inch. At the end of the day any sort of growth means that something is going right in my opinion and in an event like the triple jump the most minute, technical adjustments could turn a one-inch improvement one meet, into an eight-inch improvement the next.
Q: You represented Haiti at the Pan Am Games in 2007. Do you have your sights set on London in 2012?
A: London 2012 is really up in the air at the moment though I would be competing for Haiti! I was hoping to have gone to Beijing last year but of course I wasn’t able to do that, so the Olympics ended up being a dream deferred I suppose. Seeing as how I’ll be graduating law school next May, the 2012 decision really boils down to whether or not to start working the following fall (2010 – or whenever the firm I’m at decides to start me since law firms have been pushing back start dates thanks to the economy), or to actually focus on going to London and and the 2011 World Championships along the way. I’ve been able to juggle training and competing while being a summer associate at a corporate law firm, but the life of a full time associate isn’t at all conducive to training like an Olympic athlete. The reality of it all is that supporting myself for two years and paying back student loans, while I train would likely be quite the difficult task. Still, I’ve got time to think about it and another season in which to convince myself and perhaps others, that it would be worthwhile for me to keep competing a bit longer. It would be really nice to able to focus on just track and field for once and to see what I could accomplish!
Q: What are you up to professionally these days? Are you preparing to be your own agent in the near future?
A: Professionally, I’m entering my final year at Georgetown Law so perhaps being an agent is a possibility. I wish I could be my own agent, but the way the track world works, either you’ve got to know somebody to get into meets overseas and that’s where agents come in since they’re familiar with the meet directors, or your performances have to be good enough to make people want to pick up the phone and call you personally. I’m sure my mark is quite a ways away from that though. So far this summer I spent seven weeks at a law firm in New York where I had a nice hour and a half to two hour commute to the city since I stayed at home in Newburgh; and I’m just wrapping up my first week of three at a firm in D.C. So in my life outside of athletics, I’m on the typical law school to corporate law firm path and spend the entirety of my day working as a summer associate. It’s just that most of my evenings are spent on the track.