A cornerstone of this podcast is the power of sport to catalyze personal and societal change, cultivate confidence, and ultimately transform lives.
But what happens when sport breaks you?
If you’ve listened to my conversations with Lindsay Crouse and Lauren Fleshman, you know this story is all too familiar within athletic institutions—particularly Nike. Today’s guest is busting this paradigm.
Meet Mary Cain.
Established as the fastest girl in a generation by the time she reached high school, Mary was only 16 when she qualified for the Olympic Trials. At 17, she became the youngest American track and field athlete to make a world championship, competing in Moscow in the 1500 meters.
Olympic glory seemed a foregone conclusion. Until that is, she joined Nike’s elite Oregon Project team run by infamous coach Alberto Salazar.
And that’s when everything changed.
Under severe pressure from Salazar and others to lose weight, her mental and physical health began to crumble. Ultimately, her body collapsed—and her running career behind it. Then she just disappeared.
Until November of 2019 that is, when Mary broke her silence on what happened and why, bravely exposing the abusive system that derailed her in a New York Times Video OpEd entitled, “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I joined Nike”.
“I don’t want to rewrite my story, I want to make something good going forward.”
– MARY CAIN
Here’s the thing about Mary: she’s emerged from this whole experience stronger—both as an athlete and as an advocate resolute on creating positive change for the next generation of female athletes.
Now 25, she continues to run while serving as the New York Community Manager for the running apparel brand Tracksmith.
In addition, this podcast announces her new role as CEO of Atalanta, a new NYC-based elite running team & community non-profit Mary founded with the dual mission of promoting running community, inclusivity & diversity, while also rewriting the rule book on professional women’s athletics.
Today we get into all of it.
I have a ton of respect for this young woman. Her story is powerful. It’s instructive. And I’m proud to help share it.
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- Connect with Mary Cain: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Atalanta: atalantanyc.org
- Atalanta on Instagram: @atalantany
- Atalanta on Twitter: @atalantany
- Tracksmith: The Comeback Trail
- New York Times: I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike
- New York Times: Mary Cain Takes the Next Step
- US Center For Safe Sport: Our Work
- New York Road Runners: A Vision for the Future of Female Running
- ECO Athletes: World Class Runner & Activist Mary Cain, Adds EcoAthletes Champion to Her Resumé
- Voice In Sport: Mission
- New York Times: I Used the Podium to Protest. The Olympic Committee Punished Me.
- NPR: Pro Runner Mary Cain Discusses Abuse Allegations Against Nike
- Runners World: Mary Cain and Alexi Pappas Both Suffered in Silence. Then They Saved Each Other.
- ESPN: Mary Cain calls Nike out for its response to her abuse allegations | Outside the Lines
- Outside: Mary Cain and the Dark Side of Pro Running
- Women’s Running: Mary Cain Announces New Role at Tracksmith
- Sports Illustrated: Inside the Toxic Culture of the Nike Oregon Project ‘Cult’
- The Gothamist: Mary Cain On The Future Of Pedestrian Running Spaces In NYC
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