Raising the Bar Testimony | Former Olympic Athlete Jamie Nieto // 100 Huntley Street
0:00 so Jamie thanks for joining us today so 0:02 I have here for time us high jump 0:04 champion two-time Olympian did you 0:07 expect all of the success to come no no 0:10 no I was just having fun at first and 0:12 then in junior college it was like a 0:15 progression it was like okay I want to 0:16 try to get a scholarship you know and my 0:19 mom couldn’t afford to send me to school 0:20 so that end up happening and I jumped a 0:23 little higher and kept jumping a little 0:25 higher and then when I got to Eastern 0:26 Michigan University I I didn’t do as 0:31 well as I wanted to the first season and 0:32 then I really committed myself even more 0:34 and you know got down on my hands and 0:37 knees and prayed even more and and 0:38 things started to happen that next year 0:40 and I was all-american and I’m going to 0:43 other stats that I put up on the board 0:45 but no big deal you’re being very humble 0:46 I mean being two-time Olympian is a 0:49 pretty big feat yeah and then decided to 0:52 retire and got into acting coaching as 0:55 well why make that change well you know 1:00 I always I always wanted to be an actor 1:02 and I was always afraid to tell people I 1:05 want to do it because I was afraid that 1:06 people would discourage me from trying 1:08 to be an actor and then I looked back at 1:11 my career and I was in 2004 I made the 1:14 Olympic team and I was thinking you know 1:16 a lot of people discourage me from doing 1:18 track I feel a lot of people told me 1:19 that you know it’s really hard to make 1:22 the Olympic team are you sure you can do 1:23 it I don’t think you can do it or you’ll 1:25 never be an Olympian and you know to 1:27 those people who discouraged me and made 1:28 me think well what’s stopping me from 1:31 pursuing my dream as an actor writer 1:34 producer you know nothing so I went 1:37 after it and and not right away in 2008 1:40 as I started seeing the end of my career 1:42 kind of come I was like I need to start 1:44 setting myself up for something and then 1:46 Oso and I did some short films and then 1:48 oh8 got in some acting classes and did 1:51 some much auditioning and then I think 1:53 oh nine is when I met David and he’s 1:55 seen me in an acting class it’s like 1:57 David White yes he see me in an acting 2:00 class and he was like hey I got this 2:02 film on Michigan you want to come and do 2:04 it and I was like I was gonna say no I 2:06 was like yeah and so I went out there 2:09 and we did a film called Jerusalem 2:11 down and and it was a small part but it 2:13 was it was really fun I enjoyed it and 2:14 he said you know what don’t worry I got 2:15 something even better for you and I 2:17 wasn’t sure and I was like I didn’t know 2:18 him very well so I was like okay and you 2:21 know maybe if he called me great if not 2:23 it’s ok I you know I had a great time 2:25 well literally like a couple months 2:27 later he called me and it was like hey I 2:30 got this other script for he’s called 2:31 encounter I was like he was like read 2:34 through it let me know if you want to do 2:35 it I was like yes before he even sent me 2:37 the scribbles like yeah of course but he 2:39 said it’s a man it was a blast and we 2:41 end up filming the encounter and they 2:43 encounter did really well and they went 2:45 on and made more movies and TV shows 2:47 after the show not just little well 2:49 really really really yeah and then April 2:52 23rd 2016 your life changed 22nd I 2:57 believe but yes it did I was coaching 3:00 and I was just working with some you 3:02 know Olympic hopefuls and we were doing 3:05 some training routine stuff that day and 3:08 and I was showing him some drills and in 3:12 my career I’ve done hundreds of 3:14 backflips after I’ve won competitions or 3:16 just finished competitions and I did a 3:19 backflip and my foot slipped that was I 3:22 was on some astroturf and my foot 3:23 slipped and I went from my feet straight 3:26 to my head and as my body kind of went 3:30 limp the first thing I thought was the 3:33 first thing I heard was don’t worry you 3:37 just have to go through this you’ll be 3:38 alright and I thought well what the heck 3:40 is that 3:41 and then I couldn’t I started trying to 3:42 feel my legs and I was like oh my god 3:44 don’t let me be paralyzing and I was i 3:48 from the chest down and it was it was 3:49 very scary and then I you know all these 3:51 like my life kind of flashed before my 3:53 eyes kind of thing and what would my 3:55 life be and what’s gonna happen and you 3:58 know and it was just a really traumatic 4:01 experience and you know luckily some of 4:04 the athletes that were there were 4:06 faith-based people and you know 4:08 Christian athletes and you know they 4:11 pray for me right away they pulled out 4:12 their Bibles and pray for me and I think 4:14 you know I thank God that you know I’m 4:16 here today because you know something 4:19 like that the slightest left-right a 4:21 little more pressure 4:23 might not have been here today you know 4:25 so what was your conversation with God 4:27 like during those early days Jamie it 4:31 was tough God kept me positive though 4:33 more than anything did you ever ask why 4:36 no I never asked why I think for me and 4:43 I think with track and field it always 4:46 taught me that you know when you lose 4:49 the competition you figure out okay what 4:51 could I’ve done better or how do I do 4:54 better next time you know and at the 4:56 point in time when this had already 4:58 happened for me it was more so like okay 4:59 how am I gonna get out of this how am I 5:02 gonna get back to my normal life how am 5:04 I gonna get my strength and moving again 5:06 you know and so that’s that was my hope 5:09 like it was always like instead of why 5:12 me how come and and pitying whatever 5:15 went hat whatever happened it was more 5:17 so you know I got to be positive I got 5:20 to go after this I’m gonna I’m gonna 5:22 walk again I’m gonna run again you know 5:24 those type of thoughts came to my head 5:26 so and I turned to God a lot of times 5:29 when I was frustrated or irritated 5:30 because I couldn’t do something because 5:32 things weren’t as easy as they used to 5:35 be you know and and God helped me out 5:37 you know I would just take five ten 5:40 minutes and just speak to him out loud 5:41 and just pray and and I felt better 5:44 after that the doctors said 30% chance 5:47 of functionality mhm 5:49 after your accident right you were 5:51 focused on being able to walk again 5:54 yeah yeah I’m focused on 100% recovery 5:57 so yeah they did they told my wife that 6:00 at the time was my fiancee and she said 6:05 no we’re not accepting that we’re gonna 6:07 be a hundred percent again and when then 6:09 when she told me I said yeah I’m gonna 6:11 make a full recovery it might take some 6:13 time but I got God on my side and I know 6:16 he’s gonna see me through this 6:17 well actually six months later I was 6:19 back on my feet and then maybe a year 6:21 later I was walking again taking like 6:24 small steps and then in July of 20 year 6:29 20 to 2017 I was able to walk my wife 6:33 say you can’t forget 6:34 that’s the most important thing I was 6:37 able to walk my wife down the aisle 6:39 which was a beautiful thing and what did 6:40 the doctors say today you know it’s 6:43 interesting I I told you I was working 6:45 on another TV show and they had a they 6:47 had a dinner and it was just the writers 6:50 and it was at Buca de Peppo in Pasadena 6:53 and close to where I live and right at 6:56 the next table over or a bunch of people 6:58 and I didn’t know who they were and as I 7:01 got up and I you know got my forearm 7:03 crutches getting ready to leave they 7:04 stopped me and they said hey aren’t you 7:07 Jaime Nieto and I was like yeah I was 7:10 like yeah I am and they’re like we were 7:13 in the ICU when you got hurt this whole 7:16 table here is everybody who’s working on 7:18 Icee we know your story we know who you 7:20 are and one of the ladies was crying she 7:22 saw me standing on my feet she was like 7:23 I can’t believe you’ve come this far and 7:26 she said you have to come back I said 7:27 yeah when I got hurt I told you I’m 7:29 gonna come back when I’m running again 7:31 I’m not quite there yet but I will be 7:33 back and I hope you guys still there you 7:35 know yeah so it was a it was an amazing 7:38 experience but it was nice that they 7:40 were able to see me so but on my other 7:42 doctors you know my other doctors were 7:44 kind of seeing me progressed they’re 7:46 very happy they’re like whatever you’re 7:48 doing just keep doing it and I’m like 7:49 prayer and hard work yeah you know yeah 7:52 you are a walking miracle amen yes Thank 7:55 You Jamie for your time no problem thank 7:57 you
James Earl “Jamie” Nieto is an American high jumper. His personal best jump was achieved at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. But in 2016 a maneuver went seriously wrong for Jamie while coaching some jumpers when he showed them his backflip expertise. He pushed off with one foot on the artificial turf, and it slipped, forcing him straight back instead of into a somersault.
The full weight of his body crashed on his neck. Jamie had surgery to fuse a disk in his neck and when he awoke, he could only shrug his shoulders and flex his quadriceps muscles. Today Jamie is the C.E.O. of Raising The Bar Entertainment.