Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire who founded Facebook. Samyr Laine is a non-billionaire attorney who was Zuckerberg’s freshman roommate at Harvard. But Laine has an opportunity to obtain something that Zuckerberg will never earn: an Olympic medal.
Besides their one-year cohabitation, Zuckerberg and Laine share something else, in that they both knew what they wanted to do from a young age. Laine discovered his love for track & field in middle school. He had a brief affair with tennis in high school before rekindling his romance with track & field after watching the 2000 Olympics. He worked hard and made his high school team as a senior, placing third in the triple jump at the New York State Championships.
Laine took his re-found talents to Cambridge, where he pestered the coach for a spot on the track & field squad. His presence on the team played immediate dividends, as Laine placed second in the triple jump at both the Ivy League Indoor and Outdoor Heptagonal Championships as a freshman. He went on to win both the Ivy League Indoor and Outdoor triple jump titles each of the next two years, placing seventh at NCAAs in 2005 to earn USTFCCCA All-America honors. Injuries hampered his efforts as a senior, when he took second in the indoor triple jump and long jump but was unable to compete during the outdoor season.
After graduation, Laine decided to attend graduate school at Texas while using his final season of outdoor eligibility. During his time at Texas, Laine, who is American born but the son of Haitian immigrants, competed under the Haitian flag for the first time at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
After graduating from Texas, Mr. Laine went to Washington, where he attended law school at Georgetown while training for the Olympics and competing in various track & field events. He continued his Olympic training even while studying, taking and passing the New York Bar exam, and now he is in London with the goal of becoming Haiti’s first-ever Gold medalist.
Although he was not born in Haiti, Laine wants to help the country he calls his homeland. His goal is to form a nonprofit group called the Jump for Haiti Foundation, a sports program that would host camps and clinics in order to produce future Olympic athletes from the country, using teams made up of athletes who were born and raised in Haiti.
Laine hopes that any success he achieves during these Summer Games is just the start for Haiti, a country that is slowly rebuilding after natural disasters and government corruption scandals. If it is of any solace to the Haitian people, Laine has experience being a part of something big that started small. He was the 14th member of Facebook.