Lewy Overcomes Initial Failure To Earn Unlikely Trip to Beijing

By Mustafa Shaikh, Daily Cal Contributing Writer

This story was originally published in the Daily Californian on Monday, April 30, 2008.
Click here for original version.

Reprinted by permission.

When Magdalena Lewy crossed the finish line in second place at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Boston-guaranteeing herself a spot at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing-she made a bold statement that no task would be large enough to keep her from reaching her personal goals.

Unlike the other elite athletes that she was competing against, Lewy had a lot more on her plate: a full-time job as a Cal track and field assistant coach and her two-year-old son, Owen.

Add in a disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials (only the top three finishers advance to the Olympics) and the average athlete would have hung up her cleats a long time ago.

'Obviously 2004 was a big disappointment for her. Most people would have given up and gone on with their lives,' says Tony Sandoval, current Cal track and field coach and Lewy's former coach during her college career with the Bears. 'It's all about persistence. It's all about staying with it.'

Shortly after the trials, Lewy became pregnant with her first child. Initially, many people took this as a signal that Lewy's days as a competitive runner were behind her; in fact, Lewy was only accomplishing another of her lifetime goals.

'Quitting never crossed my mind ... I always knew I was going to come back, and I had in me more than fifth place,' says Lewy. 'But at the same time, I also wanted to start a family, and I got pregnant. A lot of people thought I was done, but I never thought about it for a second.'

Only a month after Owen was born in May of 2005, Lewy was back on her feet and getting into competitive form. Restarting her training could not have been done without a collaborative effort between her and husband Richie Boulet, who was an Olympic hopeful in the 1,500 meters in 2000.

'Usually, she'll get up pretty early (on the weekend) and head out to the trails. I'll take (Owen) and we'll meet up there at 9:00,' says Boulet. 'Then she'll take him for a hike, and I'll go for a run.'

As if raising Owen and squeezing time in to train was not enough, Lewy became a full-time coach for Cal in 2007, working with the long-distance runners.

Sandoval first saw the potential of Lewy in a leadership capacity when she was a captain during her senior year at Cal, back in 1997.

'Well I think that it's natural for her ... She has that skill where she can get on you without hurting your feelings,' says Sandoval. 'I knew she had coaching ability, and when I became head coach, the idea of her (coaching)-it was a no-brainer for me.'

If you ask Boulet, being a mother and a full-time coach might have actually helped Lewy to her second-place finish at the Trials.

'She kind of likes having a lot of things going on, so that she doesn't stress about any one particular thing,' says Boulet. 'Overall, the stresses really do add up. The way she's handled it and improved through it all is just pretty amazing, actually.'

Now that the only thing left to do is get her visa in order, Lewy is getting excited about the proposition of donning the red, white and blue come August.

'I'm so thankful for this great opportunity and I'm so fired up to be representing USA in the Olympics; it's a dream come true ... I'm going to make the best of it?-make sure I represent well,' says Lewy.

For anyone who knows her, there is no question that she will represent well. As a mother, coach and athlete, she has fulfilled all expectations; it is only a matter of time before 'Olympian' is added to that list.

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