Dreams Take Flight for Samyr Laine - Newburgh's Olympian

Amidst a very impressive track record (literally), All-American status at Harvard with a record breaking performance in the triple jump that still stands, a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Texas and more recently, a law degree from Georgetown University—made complete by a passing grade on the NY state bar exam—one might be asking, what’s next? In the case of Samyr Laine, what’s next is an international gesture on the world stage at the London Olympics.

2012 George Mason Patriot Games - Triple Jump from Samyr Laine on Vimeo. Do not be intimidated by the depth of his achievements, the Olympic hopeful is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, and part of what drives him is a philanthropic tendency and a desire to give back. For Laine, that means competing for and rooting for his parent's birth country Haiti. The Caribbean country is in the middle of a massive rebuild after a 7.0 earthquake devastated the landscape. Many children were left orphaned by the 2009 earthquake

In an article for BBC  Laine explained his familial ties to Haiti. An estimated three million people felt the 'quake in 2009 and the 52 aftershocks that accompanied it. The residuals are hard to swallow. To date, one million people are still without a place to live and many children were left orphaned by the natural disaster. Thankfully, Laine's family members - Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles- were unharmed by the earthquake. But, that has not diminished his stake in wanting to boost morale and awareness for the country. Laine with a Warm-Up routine from children in Haiti 

The native Newburgher is generous when reflecting upon his Hudson Valley upbringing, citing the details of his high school track days and even crediting his coach Malcolm Burke in his biography. It is quite the gesture in light of everything he has gone on to do since he graduated from Newburgh Free Academy 10 years ago. “Having the support of the people I grew up with in the Hudson Valley means a great deal.” Recently, Coach Burke revisited the determination of the young star in an article for the Times Herald Record, noting his parent’s involvement as a powerful force in his achievements. Laine is very close to them - he talks with Mom (a computer programmer for IBM) and Dad (school administrator at BOCES in Rockland county) almost every day. "That is where I get my drive, they have both made a tremendous impact on my success."

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Laine competing in Berlin

Laine makes himself accessible—especially to his online fan community (22,000 facebook subscribers and growing)—responding to messages and making replies so non-chalantly you might never know he was preparing to board a plane for France or Guadalajara. His schedule is jam-packed with competitions and his challenges include acclimating to different time zones, adhering to a rigorous training schedule and strict dietary commitments -  each a job all on their own. (For those aspiring athletes, Greatist.com did a great job detailing this in a recent article. )

All of this so that he can literally take flight.

What is most inspiring about this world class athlete is the positivity that emanates from him. In every arena : his virtual world, his private life and his academic career he does not exude ego. Quite the opposite, he commonly blogs about his plights, giving insight into the height of the challenges he faces (yes, a 70,000 person arena does intimidate him!). In contest he is widely liked and though competitive, a comrade first. His message is one of optimism and perseverence, "The power of positivity can not be understated.  Happiness is a state of mind - your mind sets the bar for self-confidence. When you align these things, life in general tends to work out for the better." Ever an optimist, a hard worker and a gentleman - Newburgh is proud to have walked arm in arm with him.

We're rooting for you, Samyr!

Samyr's Reading List : The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ; Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

Samry with his "better half" Ayanna in Paris

Get inside the mind of a champion at SamyrLaine.com

Article by : Stefanie Pearl