Gluten-free Olympian

We live near Baltimore, so you can imagine it’s all Michael Phelps, all the time now that the 2008 Summer Olympics have begun. If it seems like national attention is riveted on his quest to break Olympic medal records, you can imagine what it’s like in this city and its suburbs. Just yesterday my hair stylist shared the very important info that Michael’s Mom gets her hair done in the shop!

The Olympic obsession in our house actually pre-dates Phelps and can be traced to my husband’s childhood when he followed the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. My younger son carries on the tradition, tallying medal counts and watching every event until the wee hours of the night. Thank goodness it’s summer. His grades actually fell during the winter Olympics in 2006.

While we are rooting for Phelps, we have our eye on another Olympic athlete as well. She’s Amy Yoder Begley, an Olympic distance runner, who has celiac disease. She will compete in the women’s 10,000 meter race as part of the US Olympic team. What a great inspiration Amy is for my daughter and all the young people like her who also have celiac disease. Amy is the embodiment of the important message that the disease should not stop you from doing anything you want to do.

Amy, 30, has been a runner for a long time, ever since high school in Kendallville, Indiana, according to the hometown paper there. But she was diagnosed with celiac disease only about three years ago. In part, the diagnosis explains some of the struggles she has faced in her running career, including low bone density, anemia and stomach problems. These are all symptoms of undiagnosed celiac disease.

Now, Amy feels healthy and strong and is one of the world’s elite athletes. At the Opening Ceremony, she paraded with her US Olympic teammates and then had her picture taken with President George Bush.

In addition to her athletic goals, part of her quest in Beijing is to find gluten-free food. We could tell you about that, but it will be more fun to go to Amy’s on-line journal,, and read about it in her own words.

The only other things we have to say is,”Go Amy!”