Life in the Fast Laine


As a junior at Harvard, Samyr Laine was atop the Ivy triple jump world, beating future NCAA champions Rayon Taylor and Muhammad Halim at both Indoor and Outdoor Heps. What else is supposed to happen for someone whose first name means “always onward and upward” in Arabic?

After injuries robbed him of a productive senior season, finding a silver lining to the setback would prove difficult at the time. But it did open another door… one that would lead to Doha, Qatar, via Port au Prince, Haiti.

Forced to sit out his final outdoor season at Harvard, Laine, who grew up in Newburgh, N.Y., was able to enroll in graduate school at the University of Texas with one semester of athletic eligibility remaining. It was there that he met Nadine Faustin-Parker, a Haitian hurdler whose husband, Anthony Parker, served as the coach of the Haitian Olympic track and field squad.

Once it got out that Laine’s parents, Jacques and Evelyne, were both born in Haiti, the Parkers put him in touch with Haitian officials and soon, after earning a graduate degree from UT, he was named to the national team.

And then his leaps and bounds grew by leaps and bounds. Last summer he soared more than 57 feet to establish a Haitian national record and advance to the World Championships in Berlin. This week, the Georgetown law student and volunteer coach at George Mason is ready for his second stab at Worlds, the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Doha, where he will begin competition on Friday (at 6:20 am on the East Coast).

“I’ve never intended on truly making a living from track and field so my post-collegiate pursuits have been driven mostly by a quest for personal excellence,” said Laine.

Until January. That’s when Haiti was devastated by the earthquake. All of his family members in Haiti survived, but the impact has been great.

“I’ve really realized what it means to represent the country. It is certainly not about myself but instead about providing Haiti with some positive exposure on the international front,” said Laine, one of just two Haitians competing in Doha. “I’ve personally realized that I’m not competing just for myself anymore but for the nation as a whole… as grandiose as that may sound.

“As an international representative for Haiti, I’ve been received with nothing but support and blessings. Since I’ve been in Doha actually, every new person I have met has asked about how things are in Haiti and apologized for the fact that the country has to deal with such devastation on top of the fact that things were difficult there even before the disaster. It is all pretty encouraging and heartwarming to see that people seem to care so much and have no problem expressing that empathy.”

Laine, by the way, is a close follower of Heps Track and is a prolific blogger himself. In fact, he has posted a Pre-Worlds update just today. Check out the entire website as he does a great job with it.

He also wants everyone to keep Haiti in their thoughts and to consider his charity of choice — Yéle Haiti. You can make donations by clicking here.

2010 Virginia Tech Challenge – Final Jump from Samyr Laine on Vimeo.

4 Responses to “Life in the Fast Laine”

  1. Mary Boggs says:

    Good luck Sam! Represent your country proudly. We in the Ivy League will be right here, cheering for you.

  2. Brett says:

    Within an hour of posting this story, I had an email from a member of the Office of Admissions of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar because she hopes to “get a contingent of Hoyas from our Qatar campus here to the Aspire Zone to cheer him on this Friday and again (insha’allah) on Sunday evening at the finals!” Nothing like strangers rallying around a law student a half world away from his home.

  3. Jacques L. says:

    Good luck this week Sam I’ll be here cheering for you. You have heart.

  4. Anthony Wallace says:

    SKEETER JACKSON FLIGHT CLUB!!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK SAM..THE HARDEST WORKING MAN 42FT OUT 57FT DEEP AND ALMOST DONE WITH THE G-TOWN LAW DEGREE!