Mandy Marquardt – Road to the 2016 Olympics
04 January 2016
Team Novo Nordisk Elite Cyclist Mandy Marquardt is a seven-time U.S. National Champion, has represented the U.S. at the 2014-2015 UCI Track World Cups, is a two-time Collegiate National Champion and currently part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic ‘Long Team’ for track sprinting.
Below, Mandy shares the path she hopes will have her racing with diabetes this summer in Rio de Janeiro.
The Start of My Journey:
I began cycling in 2003 when I was 10 years-old, competing in endurance road and track events at theBrian Piccolo Sports Park and Velodrome in Cooper City, Florida, and riding with the local 6am group road rides. In my first year racing, I won two Junior National Road titles (Time Trial and Criterium), and I was hooked.
I loved everything about cycling: training, racing, and traveling. In 2006, I moved to Germany to live with my dad and race for a few years, and while I was there, I struggled with the road races but excelled in track cycling. I took bronze in the 500m Time Trial at my very first German Junior Track Nationals.
In November of 2007, I went in for V02 max testing and blood work, and we discovered that my blood sugar was abnormally high. I was sent straight to the hospital where I was then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was only 16, active and healthy, so initially I was overwhelmed and confused. I spent the next 2 weeks in the hospital, seeing multiple doctors, and one that told me that I’d never be able to race at a high level again.
I never felt so lost, but was determined to race again. I worked closely with my diabetes educator – learning how to manage my diabetes on and off the bike – and in less than 8 months, I was back at the German Junior Nationals, once again taking bronze in the 500m Time Trial. So much had changed in a year, but I was still standing in the same exact spot. It was an indescribable feeling.
In 2009, I went back to Florida to live with my mom and finish my last year at South Plantation High School. I ran cross country, track and field, and continued with cycling. I was looking for a women’s road team to race with when I discovered a team that had cyclists with diabetes. A rider on the women’s team reached out to me, and put me in contact with the team director. In 2010, I joined Team Type 1, Team Novo Nordisk’s predecessor, and was thrilled to be surrounded by other athletes racing with diabetes.
It was a great feeling to give back to the community by visiting schools and talking to the community about what life was like living and racing with diabetes. And over the next few years, I raced on the road and on the velodrome at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, while going to college at Penn State Lehigh Valley and racing at the collegiate local and national level.
My Journey as a Sprinter:
I currently train and race at The Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, where every summer a bunch of international riders come there to race. The racing is a mix of endurance and sprint events, so I was given the opportunity to try sprint events.
At the end of 2012, I decided to fully focus on track sprinting, and I began to work with Andrew Harris of Sprinter’s Edge Track Development Team. Andrew told me the full transition from endurance to sprinting would most likely take about 2-3 years. I was stepping into a whole different world where the training was very different (and I didn’t yet look like most sprinters, so I was a bit timid going into it.
In 2013, I was in my last year of college and really put everything I had into sprinting. I ended up with some good results at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and won a silver medal in the Match Sprints at Elite Track Nationals. I committed myself to the process, and haven’t looked back since.
In May of 2014, I graduated from college and have been track sprinting full-time. I feel really lucky to call the Valley Preferred Cycling Center home – just not when it snows, and we can’t get on the track for 2-3 months. So I spend a lot of time indoors the gym and on the Wattbike with Sprinter’s Edge.
My Olympic Journey:
In the summer of 2014, my goal was to win an Elite Track National Championship, make the National Team, and race UCI events to accumulate points and qualify me for UCI Track World Cups. I went on to win two Elite Track National Championships that year, and was invited to a Sprint Camp in Colorado for the entire month of October. At the end of the camp, I was selected to represent the United States at all three UCI Track World Cups.
At my first World Cup, I qualified for the sprint tournament, and made USA Cycling’s Emerging International Time Standard (the time standard is a part of the selection criteria for the National Team). Other than racing in Trexlertown, this was my first time competing in sprint events on a world-class international level.
Racing the UCI Track World Cups was a great experience, and it has motivated me to train even harder and become a better rider. 2015 was a great year: I went over to Europe for the month for UCI racing, spent the summer at home training and racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and went on to win one gold and two silver medals at USA Cycling Track Nationals.
On December 18, 2015, USA Cycling announced the men’s and women’s Track Olympic ‘Long Team’, and from there the final 2016 Olympic Team will be selected and announced on March 18, 2016. I was selected as a sprint and keirin rider, along with three other strong U.S female sprinters. For the final team they will select one and/or two female sprinters.
Selection is based off a discretionary nomination from the selection committee, and we are all hoping to be selected for the Rio games. Ever since I’ve been a little girl, it’s been a dream of my to represent my country in the Olympics. I want this more than anything. Whether it be Rio or Tokyo, World Cups, and World Championships – I love what I do everyday and I’m focused and eager to keep progressing and closing the gap at the international level. At 24 years-old, I have yet to reach my peak, and I’m excited for what the future holds.
If I don’t make it to Rio, I will be at Elite Track Nationals in Trexlertown, July 25-31. It’ll be great to have the National Championships at my home track. Aside from competing, I’m the Cycling Coach at Penn State Lehigh Valley. The campus has a rich history of cycling and they are very supportive of the cycling program. I coach new student athletes, and primarily focus on managing and developing the program. I enjoying passing on my knowledge on to the athletes, and seeing them excel on and off the bike. I love collegiate cycling, and being a part of the Penn State Community – WE ARE!
I’m really thankful for all the support and encouragement from my friends, family, sponsors and supporters. I credit a lot of my success and work ethic on and off the bike to my parents. They have always supported my cycling ambitions, and have been there for me from since the beginning. I’m proud to be part of Team Novo Nordisk and representing what may possible living and racing with type 1 diabetes.
Thank you, Team Novo Nordisk for always believing in me and helping me gain a positive outlook on living and racing with type 1 diabetes. And my coach Andrew Harris for all of his hard work and commitment to his program, the athletes, and continuing to bring out the best in me.
I’m excited to be one step closer to the Olympic Games!