A mom who put her athletic career on hold to give birth to her daughter just competed in the Olympic trials, Good Morning America reports.
Mikaila Martin is a student at the University of Houston. A record-setting hammer thrower, Martin was recruited in high school and was at the top of her game when she found out she was pregnant. She ended up putting her career on hold, sitting out for a season in order to give birth to her daughter Camryn when she was 21-years-old.
“I was a junior in college when I gave birth and was on a scholarship for athletics. A part of me was worried about it,” Martin recalled.
After becoming a mom, she resumed her athletic training as usual, but it wasn’t easy navigating motherhood and being a student athlete.
“Before I had Camryn, my day was already hectic. After I had her, I had to sit down with myself and make a schedule of how my day would look like so I could see it on paper,” she said.
She has continued on that schedule for the past three years, waking up at 6 a.m. to drop her daughter off at daycare before heading to track practice, regular team meetings and then her classes. After school, she picks Camryn up, gets ready for dinner and gives her a bath and then does homework all before starting the process over again the next day. On top of that, Martin had to pick up a part-time weekend job to support her and her daughter financially, her mom and sister helping with Camryn while she’s at work.
The pandemic was particularly hard for her, learning how to balance virtual learning with Camryn at home and carving out time to still train.
“I would find a nearby park and let her play and then put her in the wagon while I did some training. During the pandemic, it was really, really a struggle,” Martin admitted.
Still, she persevered and now all of her hard work is paying off. Not only is she preparing to graduate with her graduate degree in human resources, she recently finished 12th in the hammer throw at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials.
The accomplishment is a historic one, Martin becoming the first University of Houston woman to earn All-America honors in the hammer throw. Her coach, Will Blackburn, who has supported her since he recruited her, said he never doubted her abilities.
“When we found out she was pregnant, on our side, nothing changed. We thought, ‘Let’s go on, let’s go after your goals and aspirations.’ I know it was tough on her, no doubt, in part because the time management was totally different. [After becoming a mom] she had an hour or hour-and-a-half practice time and that was it. She was extremely focused and it spilled over into competition. Her focus improved a lot and her skill improved greatly,” said Blackburn.
Martin credits her growth as an athlete to Camryn. Also adding in that she had the full support of her teammates which helped tremendously.
“My daughter kept me motivated. Every day I got up I was like, ‘I’m doing this for her.’ I don’t want her to feel like momma couldn’t do it. I wanted her to see that I did it. All my teammates just welcomed her in and that’s when I was like, ‘Ok, I’m meant to do this.’ She runs around everywhere and everyone takes her everywhere [at the meets]. She’s in heaven,” Martin said.
The budding track and field star spoke to reporters ahead of trials, saying she planned for Camryn to be right there in the stands, cheering her on as usual. Martin said that if it wasn’t for her daughter, she wouldn’t be as focused as she is now.
“In the beginning, I thought, ‘I’m not the same athlete I used to be,’ but I learned to work with my body and once I did that, that’s when things started to come into play. And you really are more focused as a mom because before Camryn, I used to be so nervous at track meets, I would shake. Now, I’m so in the zone and focused and I never used to feel like that,” said Martin.
After graduation, the student-athlete says she plans to go pro.