Athletes Juggle Motherhood, Olympics

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: July 30, 2008

Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie

CALIFORNIA — Being an athlete and training for the Olympics can be challenging enough.

Now, try doing it while juggling the tasks of training with those of being a mom.

Striking that balance between sport and motherhood is a reality for 17 American women competing at the 2008 Olympics.

Judo competitor Valerie Gotay said that her plan, after becoming a mother in 1997, was to come back for one year in 2004. Her success, however, propelled her to continue to seriously train and compete.

Gotay said she converted much of her home into a training facility to better help her juggle motherhood and competition.

Gotay also said she home schools her children so that they have more time to spend together.

Softball pitcher Jennie Finch and her husband, Minnesota Twins’ minor league pitcher Casey Daigle, may have their son’s future already mapped out. As the child of two professional pitchers, Ace Shane, 2, could be set to take the mound at a young age.

Finch said the hardest part for her is traveling without her young son in tow. That’s why she said she tries to take him with her as often as possible.

“I’ve been so blessed with being able to travel with him. He’s got his little passport. He’s quite the world traveler,” Finch told ESPN’s Page 2. “He’s been on over 100 flights already. He’s so good on airplanes.”

Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, 41, has gained a lot of attention for being the first American swimmer to make five Olympic teams.

Torres said having her daughter, Tessa, didn’t stop her need to train or compete.

“Tessa was put on my chest just after she was born, and I was saying, ‘Oh, she’s so beautiful,'” Torres told Women’s Health Magazine. “Then the doctor came in, and the first thing I asked was, ‘When can I work out?’ He thought I was kidding. He told me I could do aerobic exercise in 6 weeks. I said, ‘I have a swim meet in 3 weeks.'”

For weightlifter Melanie Roach, Olympian is just one of the many titles she holds. As the mother of three children, as well as the wife of a Washington state congressman, Roach also finds time to run her own business, Roach Gymnastics, Inc.

Three-time Olympic gold medal winner and perennial WNBA All-Star Lisa Leslie said she is ready to compete in her fourth and final Olympic Games.

“This will be my last Olympics — that’s official,” Leslie said in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Leslie and her husband married in November 2005. She gave birth to the couple’s first child, Lauren Jolie Lockwood, on June 15, 2007.

Leslie did not play in the 2007 WNBA season after taking maternity leave to care for Lauren.

Four American track and field athletes are mothers, which is the most from a single Olympic sport.

Marathon runner Magdalena Lewy Boulet, high jumper Chaute Howard, discus thrower Aretha Thurmond and hurdler Tiffany Ross-Williams each have one child, and race walker Joeanne Dow has two children — Hannah, 18, and Tim, 16.

Of the 21 children with current Olympic mothers, 16 are under the age of 6. The oldest child of a current American Olympian mother is Kenneth (K.C.) Shinn, 21, whose mother is shooter Brenda Shinn.

Shinn, 46, will be competing in her first Olympics.

When she is not competing in shooting contests, Shinn is a lieutenant with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department at the Jurupa Valley Patrol Station in California.