Olympian Samyr Laine and the 5 Steps to Turning A Dream Into Reality (Updated)

If achieved, being a lawyer-novelist would be impressive.  But what about being a lawyer-olympian?  I’m talking about training for the Olympics while being a 1L.  Competing internationally while TAKING THE BAR.  THAT, my friends, is impressive.  Some would even say impossible, except that I know someone who’s done it.  His name is Samyr Laine, or as my college roommates and I like to call him, “Samsonite.”  He’s a lawyer with a job waiting for him at a firm.  But first, next week he will be going for gold in the Triple Jump.

Unlike these other people who I pretend to know by jumping into 1 second photos with them, I’ve actually known Samsonite for a long time.  And I feel the need to say that because I’ve discovered that once a friend has done something REALLY awesome, people don’t believe you’re actually their friend.  Well, I knew Samsonite back when he was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate (oh, did I forget to mention that?) Yup, back when he just would casually tell us stories about how his roommate was a genius, and how they would play video games he invented.  We also went to law school together, but I was being a 1L and he was out triple jumping in Brazil or whatever, so I didn’t see him as much.

But even if you were friends with Samsonite, unless you actually saw him perform at meets, there was a good chance that you had no idea how good he was.  Sure, people would say “Sam is really good at track,” but it was kind of like how Sam would say “my roommate is a genius.” It was just impossible to appreciate the magnitude of their abilities at the time.

Anyway, this blog is about trying to pursue a dream.  Specifically, trying to achieve two big and extremely difficult goals at once.  I think we can all agree that Samsonite has accomplished that so let’s see what we can learn from him.

What Would Samyr Do? Five Steps to Turning A Dream Into Reality

  1. Be modest.  Samsonite is the most modest person in the world.  If newspapers didn’t write about him, none of his friends would even know that he was in the Olympics.  By being modest, the glamour of it all has remained secondary, enabling him to stay focused on his goals.
  2. Plan ahead.  Samsonite has been planning to be a scholar/athlete since high school.  I read an article that said that if he fell below a 95 average he couldn’t be on the track team, and when it fell to a 92, his parents actually made him quit for a season.  It’s amazing to us that Sam has simultaneously accomplished two major goals, but for him it was always part of the plan.
  3. Find a friend who gets what you’re doing.  All through college, Sam had a BFF who was also on the track team.  In addition to being roommates and teammates, they went on to the University of Texas together to take advantage of their extra years of eligibility.  Samsonite always had someone in his life who could fully appreciate both how hard it was to be a world-class athlete and the demands of pursuing a rigorous academic program.
  4. Be a big fish in a little pond.  Although he was born in the United States, Sam is competing for Haiti, which only has 5 athletes in the games.  Being an Olympian is always special, but potentially being able to bring a medal to a country that 1) hasn’t won one in over 80 years, and 2) has recently been devastated by an earthquake makes the accomplishment that much more meaningful.  Through his achievements, Sam is able to draw the attention of people with plenty of resources, enabling him to raise support and awareness for the country and his foundation, Jump for Haiti.
  5. Find the right combination of discipline and faith.  Samsonite has said that he has been inspired by Will Smith’s work ethic, and the actor’s philosophy that the mind has the ability to propel one do great things.  First, Samsonite believed in his own potential, then he fulfilled it.  You can do that too. 🙂

This is me, Samsonite and our college roommates (including the BFF mentioned above) before one our parties in Currier House.  We were trying to represent “T2” because we all lived on the second floor of “Tuchman.”  Ahhh, college…

UPDATE: Samyr made to the Olympic finals, finishing among the top 12 in the world.  He also got to chat with the President of Haiti and inspire a nation. 🙂 Some pics below:

Me and Haiti’s Olympians. Marlena Wesh, Moise Joseph, Samyr, and Jeffrey Julmis.

Samyr at the qualifiers.

Laine train.  Samyr’s family and friends (including me) cheering at the finals.


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