Spikes17 Aug 2020

Changing Lanes


Cindy Roleder

by Cindy Roleder

When the Olympics were postponed, my husband and I did the maths.

For many years, I had a wish to have children, but my plan had always been to complete this Olympic cycle before doing so.

In March, when the Games were moved back, my desire to have a child suddenly outweighed my competitive plans for 2020. We decided to try for a baby and, luckily, it worked right away.

As an athlete, of course I did the calculations with an eye on next year. The expected due date is in late December, early January, and if everything goes well for me and the baby then I’ll definitely aim for Tokyo.

More and more, we’ve seen what’s possible after pregnancy, with many examples in the women’s hurdles. A prime example is Nia Ali, with two children, who came back stronger than ever. That made me believe that I could achieve that, too.

Why shouldn’t it be possible?

Cindy Roleder

One of my best friends is heptathlete Jennifer Oeser, who managed to come back in great shape after a pregnancy.

There are plenty of athletes who have shown it’s possible to be a mother and a world-class athlete. Julia Harting has twins. So does Christina Schwanitz, and they are both managing incredibly well.

I asked myself: ‘Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same?’ It clearly seems to be doable.

I know my life will change quite drastically, but we're so excited to become parents and are embracing everything that comes with it – a few nights without sleep won’t be the end of the world – and I’m really intrigued to see how my body is going to adapt and react.

I’m already seeing changes in training.  I can’t do everything I used to, so I’m trying to stay as fit as possible at the moment. I’m really intrigued what will happen after giving birth: how long I’ll take to recover and get to a level where I genuinely feel competitive again.

It’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m more than willing to take on.

I’m 30 now, and I’ve wanted children for a while, feeling this maternal instinct inside me. But I never thought that that would mean ending my career.

I knew I’d have to take a break, of course, but then I’d just have to fight my way back to form. I still think I have potential for growth; I’ve shown that the last few years. My body is still playing ball and I’m free of aches, so I’ve never understood why having a child should equal the end of my career.

It might even make me better.

Cindy Roleder

For me, Dawn Harper-Nelson is a prime example that becoming a mother might add some extra motivation. I remember racing her in Zagreb in September 2018, her last race to date, and congratulating her on what had been an incredible career. Then, a year later, I see on Instagram that she’s back running over hurdles following the birth of her child.

I can’t speak from experience, but I imagine motherhood might actually lend you some wings.

You’re not solely focused on the sport to the same extent because you have a little human sitting at home, who requires a lot of attention and love. Suddenly sport isn’t the most important thing in the world, which with regards to performance, doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

You get home and have to flip the switch from athlete to mom and even when you’ve had a bad day at the track, the sport fades into the background when previously you might have been overthinking that session.

I’m very intrigued and excited – as is my husband – to see how the next year plays out.

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