The 28-year-old five-time national champion is currently 34 weeks pregnant and didn’t let that prevent her from competing in her specialty race, the 800 meters, at the championships in Sacramento, California.
Even though she finished her heat in last place, about 30 seconds behind the winner (“it’s not like I was going to be able to run the world record,” she joked), it didn’t really matter and Montaño received a standing ovation for completing the impressive feat. Afterwards, Montaño fended off criticism of the decision to run, saying that both her doctor and midwife gave her the OK since her body is conditioned for running.
“I know there’s a lot of stigma, and really the word is ignorance, behind pregnant women and exercising and the truth is it’s good for the mom and the baby,” she said.
Despite any criticism, however, Montaño has been getting plenty of positive feedback for the race from well-wishers and people who found the whole thing inspirational. As for her future running plans, Montaño said she and her husband Louis planned ahead to have the pregnancy during an off-year in order for her to compete in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Louis Montaño posted a photo to Instagram of her along with a few competitors bearing the hashtags “#breakingbarriers” and “#BlendOut.”
Montaño, a California native and Cal Berkeley alum, competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and placed fifth in the 800 meters. She may have caught your eye during the TV broadcast; she calls herself the “Olympian with the flower in her hair,” which she stayed true to with the bright yellow bloom during Thursday’s race. Her website also calls her the “flying flower” because of her colorful trademark.
After winning the 800 during the Olympic Trials in 2012, she said the flower means to her “strength with femininity,” which she again set out to demonstrate this week.