For three Harvard track and field athletes—one recent graduate and two current undergraduates—athletic glory does not stop at the Ivy League or even NCAA level. These three competitors, who are no strangers to competing for the Crimson, now have their sights set on gold.
At the 2012 Olympics, Samyr Laine ’06 paved the path, making waves when he not only qualified in the triple jump for Haiti but also finished in 11th place in the competition’s final round. Laine is one of just 20 Harvard track and field athletes to compete in any Olympics since the first modern Games in 1896.
Now, three Harvard athletes are using both international and collegiate competition to prepare for a run at Olympic qualification and an opportunity to become the next Crimson athletes to etch their names in Olympic history.
OFF TO A FAST START
Jade Miller, despite being only a sophomore for the Crimson, brings a laundry list of success in international competition after competing for the U.S. track and field team.
While still in high school, Miller—who is both a sprinter and hurdler—competed at both the Pan-Am Junior Games and U.S. Junior Nationals in the 400 meter hurdles. At U.S. Junior Nationals, the sophomore took second place with a time of 57.21, the ninth fastest time ever for a high school runner. She finished second to then-College freshman Autumne Franklin, who is now Miller’s teammate on the Crimson.
While the sprinter easily demonstrated that she belonged with the elite, she also described competing for her country as a surreal experience.
“It didn’t really hit me until I received a big box of team USA gear in the mail,” Miller said. “Until then, I would just tell people I was going to Colombia [for the Pan-Am Junior Games]. The backpack, warm-up, and uniform they sent made it concrete for me.”
Additionally, the Temecula, Calif., native found, somewhat unexpectedly, an extra sense of pride when competing for the U.S. team.
“It’s one thing to do the Pledge of Allegiance or put your hand over your heart during the national anthem,” Miller said. “But when you put the jersey on that says USA on the chest, it’s a whole different thing. It was something we could all get behind despite coming from different states, different backgrounds, and different schools.”
In 2014, while a freshman at Harvard, Miller competed at the IAAF World Junior Championships with the U.S. Junior National Team, finishing third with a personal best of 56:22 in the 400 hurdles.
Earlier that year, Miller finished 12th at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in her debut appearance. This season, the sophomore hopes to build on her success and make another run at the NCAA Championships in Eugene.
In Miller’s opinion, the experience she has gained while competing for the U.S. team has helped her become successful at the collegiate level.
“When I went to Worlds, I was freaked out—I was so scared,” Miller said. “But I think the experience has helped me stay grounded. [At Harvard], I tell myself, ‘Jade, this is a big meet, but you’ve competed in bigger meets. Calm down, and just run the lap.’ That helps me relax.”
ACROSS THE POND
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