Chic Spotlight: Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Wineberg PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 10:05

Chic Spotlight: Olympic Gold Medalist Mary Wineberg
From Walnut Hills to Beijing, this local woman's persistence paid off with an Olympic gold medal. Learn how she plans to go for gold again in 2012.



Cincy Chic: You achieved an athlete's dream when you won an Olympic gold medal, but what journey did you take from your first running step to crossing that finish line to earn your place on that podium?


Mary Wineberg, 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400 relay: Well, you know the funny thing is that I never dreamed of being in the Olympics when I was younger or even when I attended college. I had friends who had wanted to go and I just think that after watching the events at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, I got a little jolt and wondered what it would be like to be in the Olympics. You know your life is already planned out for you. It's only a matter of time before it unwinds, and for me, it was a true blessing in disguise.


I had run my first race at the age of 4 and never again until high school. I really enjoyed running track but looked at it as a social outlet in high school. Man, I guess my long legs helped because I was able to get a college athletic scholarship and improve myself in track on the college level. I wasn't the star-studded athlete, but I was one who kept improving over time, sort of like a late bloomer. I continued this late blooming all the way up until my quest for the 2008 Olympics.


My path consisted of struggle after struggle, then having consistency, and then a wave opened up, and I was able to excel to being ranked top 10 in the world in 2008 in the 400 [meter race]. My confidence was uplifted, and I knew that I could be the best athlete out there. I continued to stay positive, up the intensity in training and really go after each race as if it was my last.


The hard work paid off and when I crossed the line in second place at the 2008 Olympic Trials and captured my first Olympic berth. I was even more humbled. I was now going to be a part of TEAM USA and not only in the 400 meters but also in the 4x400 relay.


Just thinking back to the days in Beijing and the final of the 4x400, I always get teary-eyed. That day will always be the best day of my life, to see all my hard work pay off and to represent my country on the podium. To be able to hear the national anthem, sing along and know that, along with my teammates, WE DID IT! I gladly accepted my medal and cherish it dearly.


I was able, though, to part ways with it this past week. It will actually be on display at the Cincinnati Museum display "GOLD" for a couple a months, so if anyone is interested to see what a gold medal looks like, go and see the exhibit.


Cincy Chic: I know I will never experience what it's like to be an Olympic athlete, so can you describe how you felt and what went through your mind as "The Star-Spangled Banner" celebrated your victory?


Wineberg: There are really no words to describe the feeling and the moment. A dream come true, I guess you can say! I often will watch the replay of the Olympic 4x400 Final and especially the moment we were put on the podium to accept our medals. It's like watching it for the first time again and again. The intense feelings, the tears, the thoughts of "I can't believe this finally happened for me," all start over again and again. For me, to hear my national anthem was the best feeling in the world. I knew that I had trained hard to be able to hear it and my goal is to hear it again in 2012.


Cincy Chic: You are aiming for another medal or two in the 2012 Olympics. So what is your training schedule like?


Wineberg: Well, after giving birth seven months ago, I have been training for only six months now. I took a month off to recover from having my daughter Brooklyn Marie. I didn't really know what to expect with having just given birth and trying to restart my professional training. I can say that it is hard, harder than I thought. I am now juggling being a mother and an athlete at the same time.


Yes, my goal is 2012, and I actually participated in some meets this indoor season. I was able to qualify for our USATF Indoor National Meet, but I did not advance to the finals this past weekend. I ran a post-baby PR [personal record], but I have some work to do to be in the same shape I was in the Olympic Year of 2008. My training consists of three hours a day, five to six times a week. I work on my speed, endurance, flexibility, strength, and no, I don't do a lot of distance running.


As a sprinter everything is fast and quick and intense. I want to be able to put my body through what a 400 meter would feel like and be able to be confident that I can endure it and finish in 50 seconds or less for the outdoor season. I do speed intervals ranging from 30 meters all the way to 500 meters. 0110Fence_INSTORY.gif


As I look forward to the outdoor season I really want to continue to build my base and improve my speed. I try to make sure that I keep my body as healthy as I can, which includes going to see Dr. Steve King at Mt. Lookout Chiropractor, seeing my massage therapist Rick Bosse, and seeing Rose Smith over in the UC Sport Medicine when I am hurting or any of the great trainers that help to keep the Bearcats healthy. So training can become hectic, but now I have learned to grab my training bag, Brooklyn's diaper bag as I head out the door to start a day of training. I am adjusting and looking forward to seeing another Olympics.


Cincy Chic: This is for our Sports issue, so what impact have sports had on you as a person?


Wineberg: Sports have always had a positive impact on me in allowing me to be the person I am today. I was able to attend college through sports, and it showed me so many different avenues of the world. As a track and field athlete, I am happy to see that my sport is starting to be more appreciated and not only when the Olympics occur. I think this is important because it allows individuals to see what a sport is really made of. I enjoy all sports, and for many, sports serve as an outlet.


Cincy Chic: What advice can you offer to other athletes?


Wineberg: "Always strive for your dreams." I remind myself of this daily that I can accomplish anything. I must put in the work needed, and if I fail, try again. If I fail again, keep trying. One who puts their heart and soul into it will eventually prosper in the end.


I like to also remind young girls that anything is possible. I was a young girl like them, and I didn't think I could do it. I told myself I couldn't do it, but in the end I gave my all each and every day. I wrote down goals and made sure I wanted to accomplish them. So do the same: Write your goals down and mark off each one that you accomplish.


Cincy Chic: Off the track, what do you do for fun?


Wineberg: Ha ha! Well right now I change diapers, feed my baby and, wow, then the day is over. No, really I like to go to the movies, read, shop, spend time with family and friends. Sometimes I like to just go to Graeter's and grab my favorite ice cream, Cookie 'n' Cream with rainbow sprinkles, and treat myself.


When I am not on the track, I try to update fans on my Web site, which is I have tried to do the Twitter thing but haven't gotten the hang of it yet. I know I am so behind with technology.


I do some speaking when I have time, and right now, I am actually seeking sponsorship for my next Olympic berth. If anyone is interested feel free to contact me through my Web site.


Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?


Wineberg: I really like the atmosphere, from my days of being a Bearcat to seeing the Reds and Bengals. I knew that I always wanted to stay in the Cincinnati area and raise my family. Who wouldn't want to be around all the great things that Cincinnati has to offer. I have so many friends who have left the city and miss all the great eating places. I don't mind the Midwest weather, and I love being able to see my favorite teams play.


I do love the fact that whenever I am looking for a hill to run, there is no trouble finding one. Cincy is full of hills, and you know what? Have you ever ran Straight Street Hill? You should try it one day. It's HARD! GO CATS!




Photos courtesy of Mary Wineberg

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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