6 August 2008 :Series on Olympic Scholarship Holders, Beijing 2008. Today: Nadine Faustin-Parker.The last time Haiti won an Olympic medal was in 1928 when Silvio Cator took silver in the men’s long jump. Nadine Faustin-Parker knows her chances of ending that drought in Beijing are slim; her goal is to go one better than she did in Athens and reach the final of the 100-metre hurdles. But she has an ulterior motive for wanting to shine at the Olympic Games.
Faustin-Parker was born in Brussels in 1976 to Haitian parents and has lived most of her life in New York. Running was always a big part of that life, but when the time came to choose which country to represent, she never had much doubt. “My parents have always kept me close to my Haitian roots, so I never felt just because I was outside the country that I wasn’t a part of it,” she explained.
Most successful female track athlete
Faustin-Parker is already Haiti’s most successful ever female track athlete. “Competing for Haiti gave me a purpose,” she said. “I enjoy the challenge of trying to put a country on the map. Some Haitian youths are ashamed of their roots, and that’s something I never was so I try to make them understand they have a lot to be happy about.”
Faustin-Parker’s first Olympic Games were in 2000, when injury restricted her to the quarter-finals, and although she ran a personal best four years later it was not enough to make the final. Now, however, she is convinced her time has come. “I would not be competing right now if I didn’t believe it,” says Faustin-Parker. According to her website, the “NAD” in Nadine stands for Never Accept Defeat.
Working part-time at the University of North Carolina as Director of Track and Field Operations, Faustin-Parker hopes one day to become a sports ambassador for Haiti. “The better I perform at the Games, the easier it will be to make contacts and gain sponsors,” she explains. “I really want to build a track in Haiti. I see what track and field has done all over the world for the youth. It can really help somebody move forward in life.”
For the Beijing Olympic Games, Olympic Solidarity awarded a total of 1,088 scholarships to 166 National Olympic Committees in 21 individual Olympic sports.