Freshman long jumper dreams of the Olympics

Photo+Courtesy+of+SOGIPA

Photo Courtesy of SOGIPA

Bruno Beidacki

When Samory Uiki first started track, he could not have predicted that the sport would lead him to travel the world and earn a full scholarship to study in the United States.

Born in a lower middle class family in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the idea of being a competitive athlete was nothing but a dream. Today, the 18-year-old freshman majors in international relations at Kent State and is a long jumper on the track team.

Uiki’s personal best is three inches better than Kent State’s all-time record (Pawel Dutkiewicz, 25’-01.75” in 2005). The first opportunity he will have to show his talent will be in the second week of December at the Golden Flash Gala.

“I am very excited for the season opener and for this year in general,” he said. “I’m already in love with this school and am proud of going here.”

Uiki’s dream is to go to the Olympics. He said his motivation to keep practicing comes from “the possibility of being a part of the international competition in 2020 in Russia.”

Beginning in Brazil 

Since his youth, Uiki has experienced obstacles throughout his life. When he was eight, he grew frustrated with practicing the martial art of judo; so he decided to change sports.

“I used to practice judo in a facility for underprivileged kids, but I was too weak and the quality of the practices was not that great,” he said.

Uiki’s parents encouraged him to sign up for a government program that offered scholarships and special placement opportunities in private sports academies to low income students. It was through this that he found the Sociedade Ginástica de Porto Alegre (SOGIPA), his second home for the past ten years.

“I was offered the chance to practice there and was amazed by all of the facilities and overall infrastructure,” Uiki said. “It was incredible.”

SOGIPA is known for developing some of the most successful Brazilian Olympic athletes and Uiki quickly found the support necessary to become the competitor he is today. The academy was also responsible for giving him a scholarship to study at a private school nearby.

“I lived and studied (through) SOGIPA, so as soon as I started to compete well they found a way to keep me close and provide me with a high quality education,” he said.

At Colégio Pastor Dohms, the high school Uiki attended, he had English classes and learned about all of the places track could take him. He has competed in countries such as Malta, Ukraine, Germany, Colombia and Ecuador.

“In Donetsk, Ukraine, I competed in the 2013 World Youth Championships, where I achieved my personal record at the time,” he said. “I got the second best mark in the qualifications, which was good enough for me to finish the year in third place in the world rankings.”

His travels, however, were not only important for competition and tourism purposes. They also led him to choose his current major and career path.

“After traveling to all of these different countries, I realized I have a real passion for international relations and cultural diversity,” Uiki said.

A Trip to America 

Uiki realized that coming to the United States for college was the perfect opportunity to not only continue training and competing, but also work towards his future. His former coach at SOGIPA, José Haroldo Loureiro Gomes, supported him from the beginning.

“Uiki is one of the hardest working and most deserving athletes I’ve worked with,” Gomes said. “It makes me extremely happy to see him succeeding abroad.”

Most athletes from Brazil decide to skip college and compete full time, which led scouters to overlook Uiki. This led him to deciding to contact coaches himself. The responses came quickly.

“I emailed a bunch of coaches and they were all impressed with my performances,” he said. “I got offers from schools like (University of) Kentucky, (University of) South Carolina and (University of) Texas, but ended up choosing Kent State.”

Kent State students are excited to see Uiki in action next month, especially his fellow Brazilians. Freshman computer science major Juliano Lanssarini is one of those who will be present at the Flashes’ first competition of the year.

“Samory’s story is incredible and I can’t wait for the whole school to see how good he is,” Lanssarini said. “I do hope he can continue to excel and represent both Kent State and Brazil in the Olympics one day.”

It might be too early to talk about the 2020 Olympics, but the international event seems to be the Brazilian’s main goal for the next few years. However, there is one thing more important to him in both his immediate and distant future.

“If it was not for my parents, I would not be here,” Uiki said. “Of course I want to go to the Olympics and become a pro athlete, but as long as I make my mom and dad proud, all will be fine.”

Bruno Beidacki is the activities reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]