Jean’s Olympic journey; as told to the Westside Gazette reporter
Making it to the Olympics by leaps and bounds — When Meme Jean began her track career as a child, running with Coach Joe Ballard and the Pompano Xpress, little did she know she was on a path to the Olympics. With encouragement from Wanda Houston Smith, her family in Haiti and Coach Jordan at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Meme continues to run! She is pictured here representing her current track team as a Florida State University Seminole. If you would like to support Meme, she has a Go Fund Me page. The Westside Gazette congratulates Meme Jean as she heads to Rio to represent Haiti. We’ll be watching.
By Novice Johnson
What athlete do you admire and why?
I admire Brianna Rollins for her amazing technique in a hurdle race.
What coaches have impacted your life?
Each coach I’ve ever worked with impacted my life in a way. Starting from the beginning at Pompano Xpress, I was not at all a good athlete but the coaches saw something in me and wanted me to be on their travel squad, supported me through every-thing and allowed me to be a part of their family and go out and have fun while I competed.
Why are programs like Pompano Xpress important?
Programs like Pompano X-press are very important to a community because it allows children from a very young age to adolescence to be involved in an organized sport, gain many experiences, and learn how to build character for oneself. When athletes are involved in extracurricular activities it gives them a chance to learn skills such as working on a team, learning how to multi-task, and learning how to be punctual around peers. Most importantly, since young kids and adolescents get into trouble at their age, organized sports such as Pompano Xpress keeps them off of the streets and out of trouble.
What is your favorite track memory?
My favorite track memory would have to be winning indoor 60m hurdles ACC title. I switched from a small D1 school ( Charleston Southern University) breaking all the school’s records in the hurdles and the conference record to going into one of the top conferences in the nation and winning a title.
`Most importantly I was able to do it a year after giving birth to my beautiful daughter.
What are your goals at the Olympics?
My goals at the Olympics are to execute what I’ve been working on for the past two weeks with my coach: staying quick in between the hurdles and getting up at the hurdle.
What are your track events?
100 meter hurdles.
Who are some of the people you would like to thank for your success?
Pompano Xpress for seeing something in me while I was young and not very good at the hurdles; my high school coaches at Blanche Ely High; Coach Ansley at Charleston Southern for allowing me to compete on the collegiate level and progressing my hurdling from high school. My FSU coaches and strength coach. Coach Hon most definitely for giving me a second opportunity to compete after having a baby. He worked with me through it all and he was able to coach me through an ACC title/ championship/ top nationally ranked collegiate/ and the Olympics. I also want to thank Coach Thomas for working with me during my breaks and wanting to see me succeed and I would like to thank all of my supporters and family; I love them immensely and they keep me going.
What are your training days like?
Intense and technical. I hurdle at least twice a week, have a couple recovery days and a speed endurance day.
What is your favorite quote?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Tell us about your personal life: I consider myself as a simple person. I love running hurdles. I feel as if there is so much to accomplish in that single race and I’m not even close to mastering one-third of it. I just want to keep at it until I master most of it because I have a lot left in me and I haven’t even reached my max capability this season. I constantly battle with myself on the subject of confidence. Many people will tell me how good I am but since I’m tough on myself I don’t likely agree; I feel that if I don’t run a flawless race then it’s not good enough. But my coach once told me: My favorite quote: “What I love about the hurdles is that there are so many aspects to it and they are all easy to perfect. And putting them all together happens almost immediately.” No Hurdler Ever — Brandon Hon Himsaying that made me come to the realization that this event takes a lot of practice and requires deep concentration, mental toughness, and takes time. It won’t happen overnight, so I must not be entirely too tough on myself.
You mentioned you have a young daughter
… My daughter keeps me going. I want her to know that she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her. I want to be a leader role model to her and let her know that all goals are attainable if you work hard and keep your eyes on the prize. I do not want her thinking that it’s okay to lose sight of her goals because people tell her that she cannot attain them. My family and supporters are the ones who keep me motivated in pursuing my goals.