Haitian's Olympic Team Draws Heavily on Diaspora - NBC 6 South Florida
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Haitian's Olympic Team Draws Heavily on Diaspora

For Haiti’s 2012 Olympic team in London, things are a bit more complicated



    Four of Haiti's five Olympic athletes in London this year were not born in the Caribbean country. Samyr Laine talks about what's motivating him at London 2012. (Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012)

    For many athletes all over the world reaching the Olympic Summer Games would be a dream come true – competing for your country’s honor and doing the sport you love.

    For Haiti’s 2012 Olympic team in London, things are a bit more complicated.

    As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with hundreds of thousands of people left homeless after the earthquake two years ago, the country struggles to produce world-class athletes. But those of Haitian descent are still eager to represent the small Caribbean country.

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    Out of Haiti's five Olympic athletes in London this year, only one was born in Haiti. Four who were born elsewhere are competing in track and field, including Mark Zuckerberg’s freshman roommate at Harvard, Samyr Laine.

    "I want to go there and win a medal because I know that the entire country and the Haitian diaspora, and people on the island itself, they would just be elated. Even without the earthquake from two years ago, it would still be a big deal to give people their hope and to inspire folks," Laine said.

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    Laine is a triple jumper who just graduated from Georgetown Law School. He's putting his legal career on hold for the Jump For Haiti Foundation, a nonprofit sports program that would try to produce future Olympic athletes. The goal is to have future teams made up of athletes who were born and raised in Haiti.

    "As an athlete you realize that this is a way for me and my teammates to use sport to inspire others to rebuild the country, to do great things,” Laine said.

    The rest of Haiti’s team includes Marlena Wesh who will be running the 200- and 400-meter races, Moise Joseph will be running the 800 meters, and Jeffrey Julmis who will run the 100-meter dash. The lone team member who hails from Haiti, Linouse Desravine, will compete in judo.

    Haiti hasn't won a medal since Silvio Cator won silver in the long jump back in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, but Laine is hoping to turn around Haiti's luck in London and beyond.

    Complete Coverage of London 2012