Jamaican junior jumper Damon McLean has had quite the year, coming in 14th place at the indoor NCAA Championships for the triple jump, becoming an indoor Ivy League champion for both the triple and long jump and making second-team All-America Indoor for the triple jump. He sat down with The Daily Princetonian to discuss what he thinks about while he’s jumping, his team and his love for music and Nike Frees.
Q: Where are you from? What’s it like there?
A: I’m from Jamaica, 20 minutes outside Kingston. It’s much like what it is like today [Monday] almost every day. It’s pretty warm, and I love it there. It’s warm, it’s nice, it’s nice people, mainly it’s warm; I like the warm.
Q: How did you decide to start long jumping?
A: Everyone likes to play in the sand. You run and you jump — it’s a pretty easy event, and it’s fun. I like having fun; I like playing in the sand.
Q: What are some of your athletic accomplishments?
A: I’ve been to nationals, NCAA tournament twice since I’ve been here, I’ve won Ivy League indoors three years consecutively and I’ve been athletic athlete of the region this year, so those are some of a few.
Q: Do you have any pre-jump rituals?
A: Not really, it depends on the day. There are days when I’m trying to achieve different things so if I’m trying to really go out there and have some fun, then I’ll be talking to my teammates a lot just joking around. There are other days when I’m trying to go there and just compete and do what’s required of me. You know, I’ll be really silent — a lot of the times I don’t talk to people the night before the meet or the day of. That’s just me, not doing anything major.
Q: What do you think about while you are in the middle of a jump?
A: I don’t think; I think that’s key. It’s like, you do it so much — I think about it in training but during the meet it’s like second nature, you just do it. But that’s ideally because if I think about it too much I mess up.
Q: What do you think about after you land?
A: After I land I’m hoping it’s a good jump, but if it’s not, I’ll be really upset. But sometimes it’s alright and I like it.
Q: What are some of the team’s traditions?
A: There are a lot. We have a guy named [sophomore] Dan McCord who will come on and put Trey Songz in the locker room and some people like it, some people don’t. So different people like different things because it’s such a diverse team and everyone does their own thing. A lot of people do the Snapchat thing nowadays, they’re really big into that … We joke a lot on the team and we try to keep it relaxed, but at the end of the day we’re just trying to get the work done.
Q: Who is your quirkiest teammate?
A: We have this guy on the team called [Bryan Oslin], he’s a freshman decathlete. He’s a really weird dude. I don’t even know how to explain it. He’s really weird, you know, he’s just, like, jittery all the time; he’s never composed. But he’s always upbeat and you can always get a good smile from him.
Q: What is the strangest or funniest thing that has ever happened at a meet or a practice?
A: For me, I’ve dislocated my shoulder on long jump, which is unheard of. I’ve fallen on my face twice in the sand, which is not necessarily good but it’s a bit weird.
Q: What is the best thing about being an athlete on campus?
A: Can we skip the best thing? But yeah the best thing I would say is, honestly, it teaches you time management. For me it’s like, I have shit to do, so when I’m already three hours on the track and I know coming in afterward I have to just do work, I can’t be like ‘Oh, I’m going to take a nap,’ you know, I have to do work. So they’re teaching you really good time management.
Q: What is the worst thing about being an athlete on campus?
A: The worst thing is that it’s just so goddamn hard here at Princeton. You have all these classes plus you have to be on the track. It’s rough. And I think that’s one of the worst things about being an athlete, not saying we’re looking for preferential treatment, but it slaps you in the face more than you can imagine.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not at practice?
A: I listen to music. I love music and I listen to the radio a lot, especially Jamaican radio. I kind of DJ, but I’m not really a DJ, but it’s fun. I love music … I would listen to music all day — that’s what I do. Track has taken up most of my time right now, so I haven’t really — I’m not sure if you’ve heard of [Wilson] Blackbox, but I run Blackbox. So I love advertising for that, I love promoting that, I love planning that.
Q: What is the best song on your iPod and what’s the most embarrassing song?
A: I wouldn’t say there are any embarrassing songs because I listen to everything. If you ask the people who listen to my music, I play everything, I listen to everything. The best song, it’s really hard because I listen to a lot of Jamaican music and, to me, those are the best songs. That and some gospel. Embarrassing songs? I really don’t, because it’s like songs grow on me so after a while I’m like, ‘Oh, this song is horrible,’ but people know that I listen to everything so it wouldn’t be embarrassing.
Q: What is one thing that not that many people know about you?
A: I love Nike Frees. I’m in love with Nike. I really do love athletic wear and so spring break we went to a Nike store and I just went wild in the Nike store.
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