• Name: Jamie Ley
  • Age: 17
  • School: Lycée classique de Diekirch
  • Hobbies: Triathlon, technology, formula 1, Lego
  • Best at: perseverance, final sprints, Lego
  • Motto: „Never give up“
  • Nickname: Master of Duel


When asked what it's like to be a finalist in Take Off, Jamie replies: It wasn't him alone, but his team that made it. A very nice feeling. The importance of teamwork in the show adequately reflects real life: it's as a team that you achieve most.

What is the current situation? Jamie and Polina are the finalists. Both had one month to design and build a Rube Goldberg machine (i.e. a chain reaction of elements that set each other in motion), and can get help from ex-contestants: in Jamie's case, Tabea, Matthieu and Alex. This Sunday, the viewers will discover what machine they built, and who wins the show.

One thing is clear: Jamie passes on his extraordinary fighting spirit to his team and bites through to the end. There's a reason why he is celebrated as the "Master of Duel" on the show. Yet he never loses his friendly, positive attitude.

The last episode will be incredibly thrilling. How did you feel about the preparations?

"The whole experience has been amazing. Working with Tabea, Matthieu and Alex, who have become good friends of mine, has allowed us to look back on the show. The chemistry between us is great."

"I started preparing the Rube Goldberg machine early on, and wrote hundreds of pages about it. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to build and how I can put my friends to good use. We met several times to build and test the machine together; the atmosphere was fantastic, we all had fun with the project. Achieving something together is the best motivation for all of us; I couldn't imagine anything better."


How did you enjoy your role as team leader?

"I tried to organize myself as well as possible and make a clear plan. I've also been able to pass on my fighting spirit to my team members, and this is something I'm really proud of."


Overall, was Take Off as you expected it to be?

"I had only taken part in math Olympiads before, and they were very theoretical. I was surprised by the versatility of Take Off. Everyone has a chance to win. The team spirit was also unexpectedly nice, both among us candidates and with the production crew, with Lucie, Joseph... Olivier always created a good atmosphere in the studio and helped us deal with the stress. Even when some sequences had to be repeated three or four times, the mood was relaxed."

"I also knew that the production would be very professional. And it was: there were virtually no technical problems, everything went smoothly."


What is your experience with stressful situations?

"I do triathlon and athletics, and I've been swimming since I was 5 years old. I know pressure. You get a bit nervous before every race. However, Take Off was something else. At times we had to concentrate for many hours at a stretch; some tasks took us days to complete.

"There's a lot of money at stake, but it's also about making yourself proud, outdoing yourself. Even for me as a triathlete, this kind of stress is a new experience. I think the audience has witnessed my stress level on several occasions."


What helped you most during the show?

"My fighting spirit. I never gave up, even though I didn't think I would get this far. That was particularly crucial in the duels. Some candidates ran out of steam at some point and lost their motivation. Not me."

Jamie proved this several times as "Master of Duel": he always fought to the end. Nevertheless, he had doubts every night: "I'm not above the others and I didn't think I would make it to the last episode."

In the final minutes - when it really matters - Jamie holds on. This has nothing to do with luck: he doesn't give up inside. Just like a runner in the last few meters before the finish line.

What was your favorite challenge?

"The Lego challenge! Lego shaped my childhood and remains one of my favorite hobbies. I had a clear plan in my head, which I was able to implement without any problems."

Jamie has already built two Formula 1 cars (a McLaren and an Alfa Romeo). His big dream is the Lego Titanic, which is 120 cm long.... We can't wait to see the photos!


For all new candidates: what are the advantages of Take Off? And what really matters in the show?

"Logical thinking is extremely important. It helps you a lot in everyday life. Take Off has a lot to do with science and is a fantastic educational concept: the teamwork reflects how research is done; and also, solving practical tasks first and learning the theory afterwards is a great learning experience. I would like to see more projects like this in schools."

Jamie emphasizes another point: if you show motivation and passion, you may get a second chance. Failure doesn't mean the end of the adventure, just like in real life. A comforting and inspiring thought.


Why did you take part in Take Off?

"My mother signed me up. So I didn't really have a choice... I owe a lot to my parents: I wouldn't have got this far without their support. I'm extremely happy about that."


Do you know what you want to do later in life?

"I'm very interested in Formula 1, not just because of the racing itself, but also because of the fascinating technology behind it. I would like to work in this industry, perhaps as an engineer. Nowadays, the car industry is seeing a big shift away from internal combustion engines and towards more environmentally friendly solutions; I don't fully believe in electric motors as the production of batteries is problematic, but hydrogen could be an interesting alternative. I'd love to make that my research field."


Author: Diane Bertel

Editors: Lucie Zeches (FNR), Michele Weber (FNR)

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