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Morrisville State College Student Sets Sights on 2010 Olympics

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. —Joshua Sajous is inching closer to his dream.

The 18-year-old architectural studies and design student at Morrisville State College wants to become one of the few African-Americans to ever compete in the United States men’s single luge sport and the only one to clinch an Olympic medal.

His next race could help him get there.

Sajous, of New York City, will compete in the senior nationals luge competition next month. A solid finish could earn the slider a spot on the national team then qualify him for races eventually leading to a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

His sights are set on the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

“I want to make my mark on the world,” Sajous said of the sport historically bereft of African-Americans.

He has his work cut out for him, juggling training and school. Sajous returned from training in Lake Placid in January, starting the semester a few days behind his classmates.

There isn’t much time in his busy schedule these days. He’s readying for competition, working out in the college fitness center at least five days a week and stretching four to five times a day. Flexibility is an important factor in his conditioning—so is weight. The 5-foot-10-inch athlete would like to bulk up 20 pounds before his next race.

In-between training, Sajous is busy with school work and responsibilities that go along with his job as a resident assistant, leaving him little free time to himself.

Making the national team could mean additional sacrifices. He would have to spend more time training in Lake Placid and less time with family during breaks and on school work.

For now, he is taking it day by day, concentrating on another goal—obtaining his associate degree from Morrisville State College then transferring to Cornell or Syracuse University and designing buildings and houses some day.

“He is extremely focused and is very motivated to succeed in all aspects of his life,” Dr. Anne Englot, associate professor of architectural studies and design, said.

School has helped provide balance in his life, making him more organized and relaxed on and off the track.

Regardless if Sajous makes the Olympic team, his accomplishments are already pronounced.

He is one of few African-American lugers to ever make it to international competition. He’s donned the American red, white and blue speed suit nearly 20 times, competing in such places as Germany, Austria and France.

“There is no better feeling than representing the USA,” he said.

This isn’t bad for a teenager who didn’t even know what luge was when his mother signed him up to participate in a slider search (land-sledding event) for luge talent.

His dynamic performance provided an invitation to participate in a screening camp in Lake Placid. He was invited back shortly thereafter to try luge on ice.

The Manhattan Village High School graduate who played football and basketball throughout high school, found a new joy—luging.

Feet first and without brakes, lugers rocket down a wall of ice on tiny sleds made of fiberglass and steel, through twisting channel of ice at speeds that can surpass 80 mph, steering only with their toes and brake only when they reach the finish.

Finely calibrated muscle movements and subtle steering are essential to the sport, which also requires extreme upper and lower body strength and flexibility.

“I remember going down the track for the first time,” Sajous said. “My face was freezing and I kept repeating, I can’t believe I am doing this. It was incredible.”

That exhilarating feeling has kept him in the race, despite hurdles over the cost involved with traveling and equipment, and also the lack of local training facilities.

His mother has been his constant source of inspiration through the bumps and curves.

“She never made an issue out of how much it would cost,” Sajous said of his single-parent mother, who raised four children. “She has always followed my life goal, encouraging me to work hard and focus and telling me that everything will work out.”

So far it has.

Sajous has never medaled in competition but he has placed in an impressive top-ten in several and is optimistic about what lies ahead.

“I am going to give it my all,” he said.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options with eight new degrees being offered this fall: entrepreneurship and small business management, B.B.A.; nursing, B.S.; science, technology, and society, B.S.; journalism & communication for online media, B.S.; horticulture business management, B.T.; human performance and health promotion, B.S.; criminal justice, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only); and human services, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only).

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.

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