Alumnus Competes in 2012 Olympics
When Samuel “Sam” Vazquez’s (’11, DB) feet hit the track at the London 2012 Olympics on Aug. 3, he fulfilled a dream he had chased since high school and throughout his time as an Embry-Riddle business student.
The Embry-Riddle track and field standout made his Olympic debut in the Men’s 1,500 Meter, also known as the metric mile, and represented his grandparents’ native Puerto Rico. Rather than compete in the U.S. Olympic trials, Vazquez not only met the Olympic entry standard at the American Milers Series in Indianapolis in June, he also set a new national record for Puerto Rico by running the men’s 1,500 meters in 3:37.60. The Olympics “B” standard required Vazquez to post 3:38 or better in order to join Puerto Rico’s team.
“It has taken exactly a year of training to qualify and I will go to London with one single goal in mind—to run well enough in the preliminary rounds to make the final,” Vazquez said just a few weeks before the Olympics. “I will be running against people I’ve only seen on television. To be lined up with them is a great honor.”
Vazquez clocked a 3:49.19 finish at his Olympic debut on Aug. 3; the time did not qualify him to advance to the next round.
"My family has now left London. Thanks for your support on this incredible journey to the Olympics. I hope I made you proud," he said through his Twitter account on Aug. 9.
For Vazquez, qualifying for the Olympics was the culmination of a running career that began 12 years ago during his freshman year of high school and that flourished during his three years at Embry-Riddle, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. With coaching from Assistant Coach Peter Hopfe and Head Cross Country/Track and Field Coach Mike Rosolino, Vazquez was named national champion of the 2011 NAIA Indoor National Championships.
Vazquez holds the record for the second fastest 10K time in Embry-Riddle history and owns seven Embry-Riddle track records, including 3:47.14 in the 1,500 meters, which he topped on June 16 with his performance at the American Milers Series.
It has been an exciting year for the Embry-Riddle Cross Country and Track and Field programs, Rosolino said. Two current student-athletes competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials and Vazquez’s qualification was "the icing on the cake,” he said.
“Sam is a very talented athlete who has worked hard to get where he is,” Rosolino added. “He has grown and matured so much as a person and as an athlete in the past four years. It has been a pleasure to work with him and we are just ecstatic to see all of his hard work paying off."
After graduating last year, Vazquez and his wife, Florencia “Flo” (Silva) Vazquez (’11, DB), relocated from Palm Coast, Fla. to Chicago, where Flo works as a revenue management analyst with United Airlines. Vazquez said his path to the Olympics hasn’t been financially easy; but with support from his wife, also a former Embry-Riddle track athlete, he was able to focus his efforts solely on training for the Olympics this past year.
“The plan is to concentrate on running for as long as possible. It's what I know best,” said Vazquez, who trained alone in Chicago this past year and hopes to gain interest from a sponsor in the future.
Vazquez said he is grateful to have a background in business that he can “fall back on,” if needed. While the College of Business gave him an education and foundation to deal with life’s challenges, track and field training at Embry-Riddle taught him to never give up and to try his best, he explained.
“I hope that the current athletes look at my life story and think that nothing is impossible. Embry-Riddle taught me to be a man and to take care of my responsibilities, but [also] to not lose sight of my dream,” he said.
To read more about Vazquez, visit SamuelVazquez.com.
(Head shot photo by Dave Rentauskas)