Mandy Marquardt: On Being a USA Professional Track Cyclist with Type 1 Diabetes
Photo credit: Casey Gibson//USA Cycling @cbgphoto @usacycling
Meet Mandy Marquardt. She is a FRÉ Ambassador and a track sprint cyclist for the USA Cycling National Team. She is also a professional track cyclist for Team Novo Nordisk, the world's first all-diabetes professional cycling team. Mandy spoke to us about her journey as an athlete with Type 1 Diabetes, how she gives back to the community and how the FRÉ mission aligns with her values.
Photo credit: David Bracetty @davidbracetty
How would you describe yourself in 2-4 words?
Resilient. Empowering. Compassionate. Genuine
What sport do you compete in?
I’m a track sprint cyclist and I compete on a 250m Olympic Standard Indoor Velodrome, which is similar to a Nascar track, but racing on Siberian pine wood, 45-degree banking, and bikes with no brakes. It’s a major adrenaline rush and an absolute blast. As a track sprint cyclist, depending on which event I’m competing, my races are typically 10 to 30 seconds. I’m not a road cyclist and don’t ride a ton of miles or climb hills. My training is primarily in the gym and on the track, lifting and doing efforts that build power, strength, and explosiveness.
Photo Credit: Bicycle Racing Pictures @bicycle.racing.pictures
Can you tell us about your sports journey?
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, from tennis to triathlons and at the age of 10, I just fell in love with cycling, especially competitively because I got to travel and race all over the country. When I was 15, I moved to Germany to compete and live with my father for a couple of years (he’s German and I have dual-citizenship and speak German:).
Shortly after my diagnosis, I returned back to Florida to live with my mother. In 2010, I moved up to Pennsylvania for college, attending Penn State Lehigh Valley and competing collegiately. After I graduated in 2014, I began racing World Cups. As much as I wanted to continue my education and earn my Masters, I knew that I couldn’t let this opportunity to pursue my athletic aspirations slip away. Pennsylvania is home, but when it gets too cold to train outdoors on our 333m velodrome, I spend quite some time in Los Angeles – where the only 250m Olympic Standard Indoor Velodrome in the United States is located.
You are living with type 1 diabetes, how has this affected you and how has it impacted or strengthened your racing?
Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. So at 16, I found myself questioning my future in the sport because I was told by a doctor that I would never be able to compete at a high level with type 1 diabetes. In 2010, 2 years after my diagnosis, I came across Team Novo Nordisk, where I found hope and a purpose to continue to pursue my Olympic dream.
Tell us a bit more about your involvement in Team Novo Nordisk.
Team Novo Nordisk is the world’s first-all diabetes professional cycling team. We inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it seemed like a huge obstacle at the time. It made me question myself and what I could accomplish as an athlete. Since joining the team in 2010, I feel incredibly lucky to share my story and inspire others worldwide, while doing what I love.
You recently made the record books! Can you tell us about this and about your involvement in the USA Cycling National Team?
It’s always an honor zipping up my USA Cycling jersey at international cycling competitions. Since 2014, I have represented USA Cycling for four seasons of numerous UCI Track World Cups, 2 UCI Track World Championships and 3 Pan American Track Championships, where I broke 2 National Records in 2016, that still stands today. I’m gearing up for some summer international racing in my Team Novo Nordisk kit and fight for valuable points towards World Cup qualification and important for Olympic Qualification (Track Cycling doesn’t have Olympic trials, it’s not one race that determines a spot but consistency and results from over 2 years).
Tell us about your Olympic experience.
I haven’t been to the Olympics yet, the farthest I’ve gone is the World Championships and the Olympics would be the next step. I will continue to put in the hard work and hope to represent my country and Team Novo Nordisk in the 2020 Olympics Games. Not only would it be the pinnacle of my athletic career, but it would also be an incredible platform to inspire, educate and empower those affected by diabetes to pursue their dreams.Who/what inspires you most?
My family. They have always been my rock and an instrumental part of my educational and athletic ambitions and success.
Setting goals also inspires me because having a plan, being transparent and reflective with training and results, inspires me to continue being a better athlete.
What’s your mantra?
I have two…
Dream big and follow your heart
Your body will go exactly as far as your mind pushes it to go
How do you give back to your community/what social causes are you passionate about?
Training, traveling and competing take up a lot of my time, but I feel it’s healthy having positive “distractions”. When I’m home, I’m involved at the University I graduated from – Penn State Lehigh Valley, and currently serve on the Alumni Board of Directors, having fun on the marketing committee. I’m also the Cycling Coach on campus but have had to take a back seat with all the racing commitments. Through the sport, I mentor a few younger athletes and feel very privileged to be a small part of their life.
Mentoring McKennaMcKee, Jr Nationals
Tell us about your involvement in FRÉ, what do you love about the products, the community, the values?
I’m so excited to partner with FRÉ and feel very fortunate that they have chosen me to be an ambassador. I believe, my life aligns with their mission and values and I absolutely love their passion with the environment, empowering woman and creating authentic and effective products.
What kind of social impact and social projects (with specific examples if possible) would you like to see the FRÉ community leading?
As a top-level athlete, I’ve personally struggled with some body image issues because I have broad shoulder, muscles and stand tall at 5”9’, maybe tapping into some of those stereotypes and stories and how beauty is not only on the outside (with amazing FRÉ products) but on the inside (through giving back to the community).
Anything else you want to add?
I’m incredibly thankful to be part of the FRÉ community, and having the opportunity to connect with so many empowering and influential women is inspiring. Thank you.