I wish I had been able to provide an additional entry or two during my time here in London to give you guys a better glimpse of how it has been and to also save you guys from having to read a single diary entry crammed with far too much information to be adequately digested. I’ll try to avoid that though but still attempt to give you a feel of how this adventure has been.
I couldn’t have asked for a better first Olympic experience. The opening ceremonies were spectacular and everything I could have hoped they would be. Walking into the stadium that night literally gave me goosebumps (as did walking into the stadium a second time for my competition). My family arrived in London the morning of the opening festivities, with a couple friends from college getting in shortly after them. So when it came time for me to move on emotionally from the opening ceremonies and refocus on the competition, it helped a great deal to have them here knowing that they were really and truly on this journey with me and for me.
In between the opening ceremonies and my competition I got back to some intense and high quality training sessions to ensure that nothing was left to chance on August 7th which was the day of the qualifying round of the men’s triple jump. I spent an unusual amount of time in the mall immediately adjacent to the Olympic Village as it served as the perfect meeting spot when I wanted to see my family. I was also able to watch my training partner Ayanna Alexander compete in the women’s triple jump for Trinidad and Tobago and the experience of supporting her and watching her compete also helped me better temper my expectations and anxiety for my own competition. Going into the competition itself, I actually can’t say that I was nervous. Sure I got butterflies once or twice when watching other sports or early track and field events but I knew that I was prepared and could compete with the other jumpers in the field. I’m a firm believer that the best remedy for nerves or fear is preparation and I was fortunate enough to have that on my side.
Competition day was an amazing experience as well. The stadium was sold out nearly every single day whether or not it was a morning or evening session. There is no thrill like walking into a stadium of 80,000 people and hearing their applause or cheers and knowing that they’re engaged with what you are doing down on the field of play. From what I could tell the fans in every venue here in London were amazing and it was of course no different at the Olympic Stadium. In that qualifying round I qualified for the triple jump finals with a jump of 16.81m which I certainly appreciated but wasn’t content with considering the fact that my goal in coming here to London was to win a medal. That medal was not meant to be in the finals two days later as I finished 11th out of the 12 competitors who had advanced beyond the first day. I wasn’t as upset with finishing in 11th as I was with knowing that I had a medal winning jump in my legs on that day. Some technical errors prevented me from getting the most out of my jump attempts but competing in the Olympic finals in my first trip to the Olympics was a blessing unto itself.
The support I’ve received from Caribbean Journal readers, from friends and family, from Ayanna and my coach, from the communities of the schools I’ve attended, from my hometown (Newburgh, NY) and from Haiti and Haitians everywhere definitely played a critical role in my even advancing beyond the first day. By now I must sound like a broken record but I really can’t thank everybody enough. I kept up with all of the messages, tweets, wall posts etc that I received while out here and used them as sources of motivation on my days of competition and even in between. My teammates and I truly believe that Haiti’s Olympic and international sporting future is perhaps brighter than it ever has been and I am just happy to play a minor role in that. Truly great things on the horizon for me and for Haiti though, and that makes this London 2012 journey a success.
I have two more competitions this year and then I will turn my attention to my Jump for Haiti foundation while resting and relaxing a bit.