Rickssen Opont is an athlete who is highly driven and focused in following his dreams and loves to inspire others while doing it. Competing in the Olympics is one of those dreams that is almost coming true. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Rickssen moved to New York City when he was 9 years old. He later moving to Alabama where he currently resides. Industry Rules talked with him to discuss his journey and his aspiration to be an Olympian.
EB: How have you been under the country’s COVID-19 pandemic?
RO: How have I been? I been okay I guess. When COVID-19 first hit, my season got cancelled. So, I first I could say I was mentally in a depressive state, but then they told us we will have the season the following year. So, I took it as an opportunity to train harder and get better. I did get COVID later that fall. Mentally, I just started focusing on things that I can control which was getting healthy again, getting back to training, remaining positive and following the rules and mandates.
EB: Being from Haiti, how long did it take you to become accustom to American sports?
RO: I grew up playing soccer in Haiti. I continued playing soccer when I came over to the US. Then, in high school, I switched. I started to play track and field and American football. It took a lot of learning. I realized that I really didn’t know what football was about until I physically played it.
I started playing different positions which ultimately help me learn how to play. I loved it! It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. It turned me into the monster of an athlete I am today.
EB: How did you get involve in track and field? What made you become interested in “Shotputting” and the “Hammer Throw”?
RO: It’s a really funny story. I was a freshman in high school and my cousin was a senior at the time. We went to school together. She wanted to do track and field and she asked me to do it with her. When I started track, I wanted to do it to get in better shape for football. I just kept working at it and improving. I wasn’t getting recruited for football although I trained vigorously. I started getting recruited for track. That’s really how I got into it.
For hammer throw, I started using Youtube and watching other throwers. I taught myself how to throw the hammer. When I first threw the hammer, it was like 30 meters which is nothing. It made me want to get better. It was motivating. I improved and my videos on social media goes viral every time I throw.
EB: I see that you are training for World Championship in Paris. What’s your daily routine in terms of training for this major event?
RO: My two main goals are the Olympics Paris 2024, and this upcoming season is the world championship in July in Oregon. I’m hoping to compete at a high level. I also have the senior championship in August where I will be representing Haiti.
My daily routine is pretty intensive. I lift on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays. I train doing specific movements that allow me to throw further in the circle. Exercises such as: snatches, snatches pulls, high pulls, clean pulls etc. A lot of hip movements that allow me to move fast.
I’m really blessed to have my coach because he’s really investing in me and taking his time to train me and make me get better for the upcoming season. My trainings cater to my weakness and enhances my strengths.
EB: Who are some of the key influencers in your life? Why?
RO: My parents! My mom and dad have made a lot of sacrifices for me to have many opportunities. To be an educated black man, and now to be pursuing my dream of making the Olympic team is special. They are key.
Another major influence in my life was my high school coach Jose Saint Victor. He is a mentor to me and we are very close. He has installed a lot of belief in me in high school when I had no belief in myself and he really showed me that with hard work and dedication anything is possible.
EB: What’s next for you career?
RO: What else is next? I’m realizing that there are no actually limits in life, and life is what you make of it. That’s my way of thinking and how I approach everything I do. I don’t limit myself and I’m taking in each opportunity at a time. Some of my goals are to continue being an influencer, continuing motivating and inspiriting people to chase their dreams, to grab life by the horns and just create the life they want for themselves. I plan on to continue training and just getting better overall. Growing on Youtube, growing on Tik-Tok and outside of social media, I just want to keep inspiring everyone around me to not be afraid to be different and think differently. It’s ok to be positive and to have a vision no one else sees and go after that.
Photo Credit: Jaylin Powell