Lindsay Flach had a secret when she headed into her third US Olympic trials. The 31-year-old heptathlete was 18 weeks pregnant.
“To be honest, I was going to the tryouts and I was trying to keep it on the down low, because I just wanted to finish my career on my terms,” Ms Flanch said.
Once she was on the track, however, the baby bump was hard to conceal. Ms Flach took to Instagram to announce her pregnancy on Friday, before the trials. “Third Olympic Trials. This one looks a little different,” she wrote while sharing a series of photographs. In one of them, she shows off her baby bump proudly. “Every story has an end but in life every end is a new beginning,” the heptathlete added.
The heptathlon has seven different events – 100 metres hurdles, high jump, shot-put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin, and 800 metres – making it one of the most taxing events.
Lindsay Flach knew, going into the Olympic track and field Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, that she would not be able to compete at a level that would ensure a spot on the US Olympics team. But even just being able to participate was a big win for her.
“It was hard mentally because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to compete at the level I was capable of 18 weeks ago, but I just wanted to prove what women are capable of,” Ms Flach said to Yahoo News. “To end one chapter and begin another on my terms was amazing.”
Reactions to her decision to participate despite being 18 weeks pregnant were varied on social media. While some hailed her a trailblazer and others applauded her for completing the event, a few raised concerns about the safety of competing while pregnant.
“I did have some negative reactions when I announced it,” Ms Flach said. “You’re risking the baby. Women shouldn’t do this when they’re pregnant. You’re being selfish. You’re taking someone else’s spot.
“I kind of expected that to come, but at the same time I knew I was going to be very cautious and I knew I wasn’t going to take a chance of harming myself or the baby.”
Lindsay Flach placed 15th out of 18 at the trials. For her, being able to compete while pregnant was significant in itself. “There are so many stories about running while pregnant and working out while pregnant, so I’m glad I could be a piece of proving a woman can do it,” she said.