- Mallory Weggemann has recovered from injuries several times, but said she has never lost sight of Tokyo.
- The postponement of the 2020 games was devastating, as it meant waiting another year to become a mother.
- Weggemann told Insider that she wants to be the model she never saw when she was first injured.
- This article is part of our “The Golden Plan” series, which highlights Olympus and its values.
Mallory Weggemann began swimming in competition at just seven years old in Minnesota.
However in 2008, when Weggemann was 18, a spinal injury left her thinking she would never swim again.
But Weggemann recovered, returned to the water and continued to compete in two Paralympic Games, winning gold in London in 2012 and becoming a 12-time world champion.
Two years later, permanent nerve damage to Weggemann’s left arm called into question his future as a swimmer. But he did not let this encounter defeat him and continued to compete in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
It is now preparing for the Tokyo Paralympics, postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weggemann told Insider that this year’s games are a culmination of his triumph and trials of the past nine years – including an 18-month stint in which he could not even enter a pool and a living room. in hospital that lasted two and a half weeks. All in all, Weggemann said she never stopped thinking about Tokyo.
“When we get there, it will be nine years to fight for the same dream,” Weggemann said.
“It’s always been Tokyo.”
Delaying the Paralympics meant postponing motherhood
At the beginning of the pandemic, when most people weren’t sure how much the coronavirus would disrupt the world, Weggemann had shocks, he said.
She thought the virus would be more contentious, like the outbreak of the Zika virus in the days leading up to Rio. Its local training facilities were closed before the official resumption of games, and Weggemann did not have access to a swimming pool for three months.
He finally got back into the water, using a colleague’s backyard pool to train.
“I learned about a resistance band tied to his dive board for about five weeks,” he said, before he could finally return to a pool and gym.
In addition to the training challenges, there was an extra layer of disappointment for the swimmer – delaying the games meant delaying becoming a mom.
We have all struggled, made sacrifices, experienced suffering and tragedy, and now we are here as athletes with that shared experience.
She and her husband had always said they had a baby after Tokyo, and it was difficult for Weggemann to accept the new chronology.
“My logical athletic mindset came in, but my heart took a while to adjust,” he said.
The recall was “heartbreaking,” and Weggemann, now 32, said she still has days when she wants she already had a baby.
But ultimately, Tokyo is their focus.
While not all athletes have had to put their families on hold, Weggemann said she thinks there will be a strong sense of camaraderie among game competitors because of what they all suffered during the pandemic. .
“We’ve all struggled, made sacrifices, experienced tragedy and tragedy, and now we’re here as athletes with that common experience,” he said.
Weggemann’s training prioritizes recovery
Weggemann trains five days a week, both in the pool and in the gym, alternating higher and lower intensity workouts before taking the entire weekend to recover.
- Monday: An hour and a half of strength and conditioning, two hours of swimming, 45 minutes of preventive work (such as a soft tissue massage or laser therapy)
- Tuesday: two hours of bathing
- Wednesday: mental performance session, two hours of swimming, preventive work
- Thursday: a lifting workout, a swimming session
- Friday: two hours of bathing
I swim no more twice a day, having learned that it is more valuable to do a session “intentionally” and recover completely before going back.
Their weekends are as much mental recharge as physical recovery. Weggemann has sessions with a mental performance coach to help him be more intentional in his training.
Intuitive eating helps Weggemann stay healthy
Weggemann made the conscious decision not to track his calories or macros, having seen a loved one fall in love with messy eating.
She eats intuitively but makes sure she doesn’t become too skinny when her training grows before a big event like the Paralympics.
“I’m not necessarily looking to gain weight. I’m not necessarily looking
. I just try to make sure my body has what it needs to go through, refuel it and help it recover, ”Weggemann said.
When she starts craving more fat, she eats more avocados, nuts or coconut oil, and the same goes for other food groups. “I’ll know when I need more carbs because I’ll start craving things like potatoes, pasta, wheat and rice.”
On days of intense training, Weggemann eats regular snacks rather than just lunch because his spinal cord injury makes him digest more slowly, and he feels sick if he eats too much. Their typical day of eating may be similar:
- Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs and yogurt with berries; or oatmeal with milk, almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, berries and protein powder
- Regular snacks: smoothies made from avocado, almond butter, yogurt, oats, and spinach
- Dinner: a plate of meat-based pans or grilled pork chops with vegetables
Weggemann drinks fresh green juices regularly, packed with ingredients such as silk and ginger to help with inflammation.
Weggemann wants to be the representation she never had
Weggemann hopes to change the world by being the model he needed when he was paralyzed in 2008.
“I haven’t seen a road ahead,” he said. “I didn’t see what it could be like for a woman with a disability.”
When Weggemann first got back into a swimming pool, he knew very little about competitive adaptive sports – swimming was just one way to tackle it: “I’m not one without swimming,” he said.
But after watching Paralympic swimming trials at the University of Minnesota, chatting with U.S. coaches, and learning more about his options, Weggemann realized that his swimming career was not going to end. .
Her journey is documented in her new book, “Limitless,” which she said is “rooted in the idea of changing perception.”
As the Paralympics approach, Weggemann is naturally struggling for a place on the podium. The happiest moment of his life was not a golden one in London, but placing fifth in Rio for the 200 meters with the best time in his career.
Each of us carries circumstances in our lives, but we are more than the circumstance we have experienced.
Going into these games thinking that if I didn’t win the gold in this ‘return’, I was a complete failure, I finished my run, I looked at the stands, and I saw my family being as strong as they were. it was when I turned up to the starting blocks a few minutes earlier, and I realized that it happened, not the gold medal, ”he said.
That moment reminds Weggemann that travel is more important than the outcome.
“I’m so proud of this race, but I’m more proud of everything it represented and of the people around me at the time,” he said. “Each of us brings circumstances into our lives, but we are more than the circumstance we have had.”