Pascale Delaunay went to Europe in hopes of competing in the triple jump at the London Olympics, but she found herself facing a whole different set of challenges that had little to do with athletics.
You might recall from a previous post on The Network that Delaunay has spent most of the past five years cramming a rigorous triple-jump training regimen around her full-time job as a Cisco systems engineer.
Born in France and raised in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, she has spent most of her 29 years in the United States. She began working for Cisco in 2005 and started training in earnest for the Olympics two years later when she moved to the Los Angeles area. Delaunay had hoped to become the first woman to bring home a medal for Haiti, but unfortunately didn't qualify for the London games. Nor did her teammates.
While her recent experience training for the Olympics in France is one she will never forget, Delaunay says it wasn't at all what she expected. For starters, she and her Haitian teammates didn't get the chance to attend all-important competitions they were relying on to ramp up for London. In addition, conditions for training were way below par, Delaunay says.
"After workouts, I need to ice," she says. "If I can't get a flush out from a massage, I have to flush out my body and makes sure the swelling goes down through icing or ice-packs. But nowhere in the region could we find ice."
But all is not lost. Ever the pro-active optimist, Delaunay and her trainer—world-class track and field coach Ernie Gregoire—are setting their sights next on the 2013 World Championships in Athletics, to be held in Moscow.
"Moscow is the mission," says an undaunted Delaunay. "It was always a six-year plan."
Delaunay is in the unusual position of being able to compete under any of three flags—French, American or Haitian. She chose to represent Haiti because that's where she felt she could have the greatest impact, inspiring young Haitian girls to a better life.
In a decision that speaks to her character, Delaunay says she would choose to compete under the Haitian flag again, but only if changes are made to the Haitian Olympic Committee. Furthermore, she is willing to be the one who spearheads such changes, in part because—thanks to her Cisco career—she does not depend on the Haitian committee for anything.
"I am the perfect candidate to speak up," Delaunay says. "These athletes spend four-plus years working towards a moment, and it all goes down the drain. I want to make sure that never happens again."
At just 29 years of age, Delaunay could yet become an Olympian. Due to the highly technical nature of the sport, triple-jumpers often enjoy greater longevity than their track counterparts, she says. Case in point, team Great Britain's best female triple-jump hope—Cuban-born Yamilé Aldama—made her Olympic debut at the London games at age 39.
"It's definitely within the realm of possibility," Delaunay says. "One thing about me is that you can't keep me down too long. No matter how many times I get knocked down, I'm going to get back up."
An inspiration to many and someone her colleagues all speak highly of, you can bet this is not the last we will see of Pascale Delaunay on the track.
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