Why heptathlete competed at U.S. Olympic Trials while 18 weeks pregnant

EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 27: Lindsay Flach walks from the track after dropping out of the Women's Heptathlon 800 Meters during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The most remarkable performance from the final weekend of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials didn’t demolish a world record or send a teenager to Tokyo.

In fact, it came from a competitor who quickly fell hopelessly behind in her event.

Lindsay Flach competed in the heptathlon 18 weeks pregnant and showing off a growing baby bump. Though she finished a distant last among the 15 women who made it through all seven events of the heptathlon, her participation this past weekend was a victory in itself.

The 2020 season was supposed to be Flach’s farewell to the heptathlon, the sport that evolved into her obsession over the past decade. She intended to chase an elusive spot on the U.S. Olympic team one final time before marrying her longtime boyfriend and starting a family together.

In early 2020, Flach quit her job, temporarily left her soon-to-be-husband behind and moved nearly 250 miles south to train with her new coach at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She intended to remain there through the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. Then the pandemic struck three months into her training.