“I didn’t believe it. I saw the 300m to go sign, and I thought ‘holy shit – I mean oh my goodness – I can actually win this’. Then I looked under my shoulder and they were right there, and they passed me. There was a split second when I thought it and then… It feels awful, but at the same time you were supported by a team that worked so hard and did so well to give you a chance to win.” – Mara Abbott
Mara Abbot has Palmarès that would rival any male cyclist that makes millions of dollars a year and still she has to work at a farmer’s market during the offseason to make ends meet. Sunday afternoon during the women’s Olympic road race, she almost pulled off the impossible, a gold medal. Instead she was overtaken with the finish line insight and placed fourth. There is no medal for fourth place.
In America, short of the Tour de France and the Tours of California and Utah, men’s professional cycling gets very little coverage which means women’s professional cycling gets less than a little coverage……zero.
Mara’s speciality is climbing and she shredded the field on the last climb thanks in large part to her team. The one rival who made the escape with her crashed, a brutal crash, on the descent and then it was just her with a 32 second lead over three in pursuit. My wife was screaming at the television, begging Mara to pedal on. But one lone very tiny cyclist was no match for three.
In the end, my wife and I were heartbroken for this courageous warrior. She had given it everything she had only to have the dream ripped from her grip in the end. She had gone from hero to zero in a manner of seconds, a drama that unfolded for the world to see.
As the camera broadcast the celebration of the three it panned back to show Mara, alone, body draped over her handlebars catching her breath and I am sure trying to absorb what had just happened. What had just happened is a moment, a memory that she will have forever, a hero’s moment that for a brief time in space she was the best in the world and no one can ever take that away from her.
Mara Abbot is my new hero. She does what she does not for money or for fame but out of love. The world needs more hero’s like her.