Editor's note: friend of CDN and athlete Carly Lenett interviewed Mandy Marquardt, a professional track cyclist who is competing to earn her spot in the 2020 Olympics!
Carly Lenett: How old were you when you were diagnosed with T1D?
Mandy Marquardt: I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 16 while racing and living in Mannheim, Germany with my father.
CL: Did you know anyone else who had type 1 at that time? (I was lucky I had my dad) Who did you get advice and support from most in the beginning?
MM: When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone else living with type 1 diabetes. While hospitalized for two weeks, a doctor told me I would never be able to compete at a high level again in the sport of cycling. I was heart broken, but my parents were my biggest supporters, and helped me get back on the bike. I always knew it was my happy place. I started riding again, and just training for fun and told myself, we’ll see what happens.
CL: When did you first realize that racing your bike was your "thing"?
MM: I grew up in South Florida, and was playing tennis, running, swimming and was interested in doing a triathlon. At age 10, my parents researched and found a velodrome 20 minutes from our home. I picked it up really quickly, and less than a year later, my parents and I drove from Florida to Texas to compete at my first Junior National Championships, competing in the Women’s 10-12 age category. I won two gold medals. I then realized, maybe I could really do this.
"It’s definitely challenging because so many factors and variables affect my blood sugar, but I’ve become so in tune with my body – it’s made me a better athlete. "
"It’s important to recognize that everyone with type 1 diabetes isn’t alike, and some days I still have my own changes and challenges to overcome, so we must be open to them to learn and continue to grow."
CL: What is your most important piece of advice to kids (and their parents) who are first being diagnosed?
MM: Connect with others living with diabetes, attend a camp or a support group. Be open and OK to making mistakes, trial and error and finding what works for you. It’s important to recognize that everyone with type 1 diabetes isn’t alike, and some days I still have my own changes and challenges to overcome, so we must be open to them to learn and continue to grow.
CL: What would being a United States Olympian, with Type 1, mean to you?
MM: It would mean the world. It would be the pinnacle of my athletic career and that I’ve proven to myself, what is possible with diabetes. I’d love to continue to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes worldwide and continue knock down my own barriers.