Perspectives Blog

Thanks to my family

By Mandy Marquardt

Professional cyclist, Team Novo Nordisk and Team USA

July 15, 2019

When I was little, my parents always kept me active in sports, like swimming and running. One day, when I was around 10 years old, I saw cycling on TV, and said, “I want to try that.” My dad found an indoor track nearby – a safe place to learn and see if I really liked the sport.

I fell in love with it.

A year later my parents drove the family car more than 20 hours from Florida to Texas, where I competed as an indoor track racer at Nationals. I wouldn’t have been there, just like I wouldn’t be where I am today riding for Team Novo Nordisk and USA Cycling, without my parents’ support.

Before joining Team Novo Nordisk, I was usually the only person my age on the track, and as far as I could tell, the only person training with diabetes. Finding the team changed my life—having the support of people who understand what it’s like to follow your dreams while managing your diabetes is really special.

Even though it was helpful knowing my teammates and I had similar stories, I struggled with sharing my own. When I was brand new to Team Novo Nordisk, we were sharing our diagnosis stories with younger kids who had diabetes. When it was my turn, I left the room and cried. I remember calling my mom and saying, “I can’t do this!” I couldn’t talk about it without crying because it brought back the same emotions I felt, and questions I had, when I found out I had diabetes. My mom talked me through it. She said, “You’re in a position to inspire people and race your bike.” She lifted me back up, and I went back into the room and shared my story. Her words continue to give me the courage to share my story today.

I’m a little bit of both of my parents – compassionate like my mom, and realistic like my dad. Both sides come out when I’m mentoring young riders, especially a girl I call my “Mini-Me.” She’s a talented racer and gets great results, but she’s really hard on herself, which I can totally relate to. Her dad asked me what interests and goals she should focus on as a young athlete. I said, “Let her fly.” My dad could have pressured me to be any type of athlete. But he saw how I fell in love with cycling. My parents let me be me. Hers are understanding and supportive, and as long as they have her back, she’ll figure it out.

Someday I want to look back on my career and say that I gave it my all. Family is important to me, and as I’ve moved up in the cycling world, I’ve had to sacrifice being close to them to train—even on holidays. I may not always tell my parents every little thing, but they know I appreciate them so much.

In a way, being on Team Novo Nordisk feels like I have an even bigger family now. And I’m comfortable enough to put my feelings out there and let my parents, and my team, know that I love them and I’m thankful. 

About Team Novo Nordisk:

Team Novo Nordisk is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team. The team’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes.