Usain Bolt may be the fastest Jamaican athlete at this year’s Olympics, but Samantha Albert is surely the island’s most tenacious.
No ordinary Jamaican Olympian – Samantha wears riding boots and jodhpurs rather than spikes and lycra, and she is only the white team member.
Samantha qualified for the games earlier this year as an individual eventer at Ballindinesk in Ireland, riding Carraig Dubh, a former ride of Tina Cook’s. She only took on 'Danny' last November following an incident with her previous Olympic hopeful, Squirt.
"Danny was last to go in and proved what a tough bold horse he is" said Samantha. "He is a very genuine horse who always wants to please. Danny has a very cheeky side to him but that's what makes him such a special horse."
Born in Canada, to a Jamaican mother and an English father, Samantha moved to her mother’s native country, along with her two sisters, following her parents divorce.
With no eventing facilities on the Caribbean island, Samantha’s competitive career started at inter-island showjumping events. But she always had an interest in the sport and would build water jumps by putting logs into the sea.
The family moved once again when Samantha was 15. This time it was to the UK, which gave her the opportunity to try cross-country for real and she has been eventing here ever since. She was offered the opportunity to ride for Canada, but chose to stick with Jamaica despite the lack of funding and team mates.
"I love riding for my country," Samantha told the Guardian. "I still call Jamaica home, even though I've been in the UK for so long."
Since qualifying for London 2012 Samantha has been trying to raise the necessary funds to get her there, selling raffle tickets for £10 a pop. Prizes have been generously donated and include three signed shirts from the aforementioned Usain and dinner for four at Frankie Dettori’s London restaurant.
This isn’t Samantha’s first games. She became Jamaica's first equestrian Olympian when she took her mare 'Before I Do It' to Beijing in 2008. They completed the cross-country course but were unfortunately eliminated in the show jumping after two refusals. Samantha hopes for a better ride at Greenwich and is aiming for a top 25 placing, although she admits to having her eye on the medals.
"It's a bit of a long shot and would be absolutely incredible, but you have to dream," she said. "That's what makes us tick."