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Olympic Silver --> IT worker --> Homeless -- Rebecca Twigg

Accepted submission by at 2019-04-16 16:32:41 from the have-we-found-the-next-MDC-and-how-do-we-recruit-her? dept.
Career & Education

Velonews reports that former champion cyclist Twigg got a CS degree but wasn't too successful in that career, and is now homeless in Seattle, https://www.velonews.com/2019/04/news/now-homeless-twigg-opens-up-in-article-with-seattle-times_492734 [velonews.com] A longer version of the story/interview appears in the Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/olympic-medal-winning-cyclist-rebecca-twigg-is-homeless-in-seattle/ [seattletimes.com]

... Rebecca Twigg has now been without a home for almost five years in Seattle, living first with friends and family, then in her car, then in homeless shelters and then, for a night, under garbage bags on the street downtown. She hasn’t had a bike for years, and no one recognizes her anymore, she says.

Twigg, 56, agreed to share her story to convince the public that not all homeless people are addicted to drugs or alcohol; that there are many like her, who have struggled with employment and are “confused,” as she said she is, about what to do next with their lives. She did not want to discuss mental health but feels it should be treated more seriously in Washington.

“Some of the hard days are really painful when you’re training for racing,” Twigg said, “but being homeless, when you have little hope or knowledge of where the finish line is going to be, is just as hard.”

......

She was spotted at 17 by famous cycling coach Eddie Borysewicz. After she won the world championship, he invited her to live in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and train for the 1984 Olympic Games, where for the first time, women would be competing on bicycles.

Americans dominated the Olympics that year. Twigg won a silver medal, missing gold by a few inches to famous racer Connie Carpenter. She continued on her way up over the next several years, setting world records, winning world titles, and racing more than 60 times a year. She became known for her competition in individual pursuit, where two cyclists start at the same time on opposite sides of the track and each tries to catch the other. She’s still among the most-decorated athletes in pursuit.

But the breakneck pace couldn’t continue forever. She was married and soon after divorced. She crashed in Texas, broke her thumb and got 13 stitches in her head. The following year she felt burned out. She took a break at age 26, and that year she grew an entire inch, possibly because her body no longer had to expend so much energy training.

Twigg got an associate degree in computer science and became a programmer for a seaweed-products company in San Diego.

Twigg says the career wasn’t a perfect fit. She quit and started training for the 1992 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the 3,000-meter pursuit after only nine months of training. As she entered her 30s, she became regarded as the best American female cyclist.

The article has more details, she tried other IT jobs, but (not surprisingly to me) it sounds like her heart wasn't really in it.

If you were in her spot, what would you do for a second act, after such stunning early success in international sports? Some former athletes become motivational speakers or coaches, but she may not be the "self promoter" type, relying on her skill/strength for her success instead of team politics?

Wouldn't it be great if we could get her to post here, see my choice of Department line--your OP AC.


Original Submission