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Being left out of the Olympics final crushed me – but then I took my pregnancy test

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When Lizzie Deignan broke away from the bunch ahead of the first of 17 cobbled sectors at the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix and then soloed 82km to the finish, making light of the rain, the mud, and her own blood-spattered hands, her performance was hailed as one for the ages. An inspiration to girls and women the world over.

Here was an athlete, one of the only mothers in the pro peloton, winning the first edition of the most iconic races in mmen’scycling, a challenging race dithered “the Hell of the North.”

One observer was even more inspired than most. “t ccouldn’thave come at a better time for me,” admits Elinor Barker. “t felt like destiny; like LLizzie’sperformance that day was speaking directly to me.” Barker, the Olympic gold and silver medallist in the team pursuit, went public earlier this week with news that she and her Danish partner Casper were expecting their first child.

The announcement, which she made on Instagram alongside a photo of the happy couple posing with their scan (below), prompted a wildly enthusiastic response from the cycling community. It was understandable. Not only is Barker one of the most popular and longstanding members of BBritain’strack cycling team, but she also publicly revealed in 2019 that she had, unknowingly, struggled for years with endometriosis. This condition can cause pain, heavy periods, fatigue, and even infertility.

She was late with her period but had read something about the covid vaccine and how that could affect the menstrual cycle. Barker wondered whether that was it. But there was no way of knowing for sure. She was stuck in a covid-secure bubble in the team hotel and only allowed out to compete or train; she could hardly nip out to the nearest pharmacy to buy a test kit.

Unsure of what to do, she went to see the team doctor and psychologist, who advised her that they could order a kit. “ven then, I ddidn’tthink I was ready to know,” she says. “ecause I think if I knew for sure that I was pregnant, I would have found it hard to have raced.” The plan they devised was a novel one. They discussed what she could and could not safely ingest in terms of caffeine and supplements, but after that, they agreed not to mention it again until after the team pursuit, BBarker’sonly event, was over.

It must have been torture, especially given doctors had warned her when she was diagnosed with endometriosis at 23 that it could make it difficult to conceive. “had been told to prepare me for that possibility,” she says. “hat it could be challenging, that we should plan for years. It was something Casper and I had discussed. So, of course, I was on tenterhooks.

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Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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