Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Team Haiti

Haiti was a small delegation and in the end we had 7 officials and 5 athletes to look after. On the paper, the ratio 4 volunteers for 12 people seems very very reasonable, especially when you know the large delegation like Team GB or the USA only get 12...But small delegations often rhyme with little or no organisation, so the burden and the responsibilities that volunteers take on grow proportionally. Add on in our case delegates who have very different approach to work, status and culture and you can see how suddenly the volunteers have to pull their weight.

Our five athletes were as follows and dear athletes, forgive me if my description doesn't match perfectly! :

- Linouse Desravine : a shy 21year Judoka, born and brought up in Haiti, effectively a IOC Wild Card. Not very worldly and mostly comfortable with the other Haitian, didn t speak English, understood french but was at ease with it. Overall a very sweet person but wildly out of her depth in London. She was eliminated in the first round in her -52kg category by a Mongolese lady who went on to win the Silver Medal. 

- Marlena Wesh : an outgoing 21 year old, born and brought up in the USA by Haitian parents, looked at the Olympics with a certain coolness, convinced that this was not the be all and end all of her career and got through to the semi finals of the 400m. A hard worker, clever lady who kept mostly to herself but comfortable with who she is, really good at dealing  with the Haitian delegates and getting her way ( being a girl helps) without getting political.

- Samyr Laine : Like any athlete in my humble opinion, this guy is a superman and knowing he's done Harvard and Georgiatown just increases my respect   thousandfold. Incredibly friendly and outgoing with a strong tendency to get things done without a fuss but also doesn t take any crap. He's the one who brokered the deal that got all of the Haiti team sponsored by Mizuno.

- Jeffrey Julmis : An outspoken, a little "grande gueule" 110m hurdler, first Olympics, vey disappointed of his performance and i get the feeling that because he doesn t think he has much else going on, he believes his career ahead is looking bleak ( which it is not, duh.) Mood swings all the time but very very friendly and grateful for our help and support, a true socialiser. 

- Moise Joseph : an established and experienced 800m runner, was at Beijing and can put up with a lot of crap until he explodes, didn't do as well as he wished in the Olympics and is therefore looking to new meets in the next weeks to build back up some good performances. Good good person and i wish i could have gotten to know him more, but hey, time flew in a weird way.

It goes without saying that all of these guys have incredible bodies. 


I don t think we spoke and interacted with them enough, as our first instructions were to work for the Chef de Mission and it was only progressively that we learned to work directly with the athletes as this was faster, less fussy and less political...but we lost a week and only really started to "bond" with them in the second week of the Games.

It was enough in any case for them to write a little letter to each of us and get us a gift as well as some of the official Mizuno Haiti gear. Of course i cried reading it and will treasure that in the years.

So to answer my question to myself in the letter i wrote to myself at the beginning of the whole process: athletes are just like everybody else but with this incredible devotion to their body and self discipline, which completely baffles me. As far as i can tell they are mostly driven by their performances and getting better and not a medal, at least for my guys. This might be because they didn t perform all that well at London, but a quick look at the performing history shows they all had the potential to do much better. 

Athletes psychology is a fascinating discipline i'm sure but i'm really no expert at this point, just more baffled than i was before as i discovered they are people just like us, but not quite. 

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