July 2020 – Currently ranked 12th in the world (UCI World Sprint Ranking), track superstar Mandy Marquardt is an Olympic Hopeful for Team USA. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16, Mandy is focused on achieving her Olympic aspirations. She is proud to be a role model for young girls to pursue their dreams, as well as for people with diabetes to inspire, educate and empower them to live life to the fullest.
How did you get into the sport?
I began racing my bicycle at the age of 10, when I lived in Plantation, Florida. I was active with swimming, running and playing tennis, and wanted to compete in triathlons. I began competitively cycling at the age of 10 at the Brian Piccolo Velodrome in nearby Cooper City, selecting the track because it was a safe place to learn. Less than a year later, I went on to win two gold medals in the criterium and time trial at the 2003 U.S. Junior Women’s 10-12 Road National Championships, and a silver medal in the road race.
Tell us about the exciting announcement from USA Cycling in June 2020.
On June 11, 2020, USA Cycling announced its Olympic Long Teams for the Road, Track, and Mountain Bike disciplines for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (rescheduled for summer 2021). I’m thrilled to be named for Team USA. It’s been an incredible journey. So far, it’s been a two-year process for track athletes in their disciplines to qualify for Tokyo as a nation. The Final Olympic Team will be named in late spring of 2021. I want to continue to prove to myself what I’m capable of as an athlete and what is possible with diabetes.
What goes into Olympic selection and what growth do you feel you need to achieve over the next YEAR to increase your chances for Olympic selection?
There are no Olympic Trials. The Olympic Qualification is a two-year process and our nation must qualify in one or both the Women’s Sprint and Women’s Keirin events. Over the last two years, I have helped accumulate valuable Olympic points at World Cups, Pan American Championships and the World Championships. The United States has officially secured one Women’s Keirin Spot. In June, they announced the Olympic Long Team, meaning we are all one step closer and hard work continues. Right now, I feel that my coach and I are headed in the right direction. It’s going to take continued patience and persistence as I train and compete internationally.
What events outside of competition have stood out to you the most?
I always love meeting type 1 families and fans. There is always an instant connection, and these friendships quickly become very strong. We are there for one another! At the 2017 UCI Track World Cup, I met a 13-year-old female cyclist, McKenna McKee, whose goal was to race for Team Novo Nordisk. She loved the #RacingWithDiabetes hashtag on my top tube and now is rockin’ it too, showing what’s possible with diabetes and spreading this powerful message. Now in 2020, McKenna is an Ambassador for Team Novo Nordisk! She inspires me!
You are a superstar on the track, but who are you off the bike?
I’m incredibly honored to be part of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council’s Anti-Doping Committee. I’m proud to be an ambassador for TrueSport and the Taylor Hooton Foundation.
I also support my alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University (go Nittany Lions) whenever I can, from serving in the past as a part-time track coach to speaking to students via remote learning sessions. I currently reside in Allentown, Pennsylvania with my fiancé, two dogs (Roo and Ruby) and two cats (Kilo and Links).
What are your favorite events?
The sprints are my favorite events. It starts with a 200m qualifier that seeds you for the sprint rounds. Then I race against another rider on the track, and it becomes a game of cat and mouse. The first rider to cross the line continues onto the next round. From there, you race the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, which are all best out of three races. Each race is powerful and very tactical, and you can’t show any weakness. Sticking to my strengths and riding with confidence is what it’s all about.
Where do you call home?
I was born in Mannheim, Germany, but currently reside in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I train at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown with Edge Cycling, a top junior and elite program coached and directed by Andrew Harris.
Photo Credit: Vishrut Garg