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I recently had the
pleasure of catching up with US Olympic Marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet. You
may remember Magda from the months leading up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic
Games. Hers was the Cinderella story of the 2008 Olympic Team selection. Having
placed 5th in the 2004 Olympic Team Trials, Magda was dead-set on
representing the US this time around. But with a ticket to the Trials punched in a race which was
over twelve minutes slower than her marathon PR, she was not widely touted as a
contender for the team. However, Magda is not one to let the hype, or lack
thereof, affect her in any way – she simply trains her heart out and races her
own race when the chips are down. And so it was in last year’s Olympic Team
Trials, when an ultra-focused Magda slipped into her own pace – a pace which
rocketed her well ahead of the rest of the field – and ran
without wavering to second place (passed only by US record-holder and repeat
Olympian Deena Kastor in the final miles) and a solid berth on the Women’s
Olympic Marathon Team.
The quest for gold
in Beijing was a dream come true for Magda, but sadly the dream went sideways
when a fluke accident, just days prior to the paramount competition, injured
her knee and kept her from completing the 26.2 mile race. But Magda is no
stranger to life’s challenges. As a child, she and her family escaped Communist
Poland, first settling in Germany
and ultimately immigrating to the United States. Magda worked hard
and studied hard, earning a degree in human biodynamics and becoming a revered
coach at Cal Berkeley. She so embraced her new-found home that in September
2001 she proudly took the oath of citizenship in San Francisco, just moments after the World
Trade Centers collapsed on the other side of her new country. Magda also became
a mother, successfully balancing the demands of family life with the discipline
required of a world-class runner.
So although she
experienced acute heartbreak during the Beijing
games, Magda’s disappointment was soon absorbed by her ever-present
determination to succeed. In January 2009, Magda found redemption as the winner
of the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston. This coming weekend, she’ll race again in the women’s only MORE Fitness Half
Marathon in New York City.
The season has just begun, and so has Magda’s quest for another shot at gold,
with the London 2012 Olympic Marathon as a clear target. Whatever Magda
accomplishes in the next four years and beyond, it’s sure to be impressive,
hard-fought and tremendously inspirational.
For more about
Magda, be sure to read her blog, www.chewysays.com.