How Injuries Sparked Olympic Cyclist Timmy Duggan's Comeback

Learn more about the motivation and inner drive that led to Olympic cyclist Timmy Duggan's cycling comeback.

Timmy Duggan

Four years ago, Liquigas-Cannondale-sponsored road racer Timmy Duggan just wanted to survive. Friends and family weren't sure if the elite cyclist would ever recover from his injuries, let alone compete again. Yet here is Duggan, gearing up for the 2012 Olympics, now less than a week away.

Duggan has come a long way since his horrific crash in Stage 3 of the 2008 Tour de Georgia, in which he broke his scapula and clavicle and suffered mild brain hemorrhaging. These injuries, along with others suffered during his 2010 comeback attempt (he broke his left arm three times), fueled Duggan to push his mind and body even further.

"I've had some serious injuries in the past few years—a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed me and a slew of broken bones," says Duggan. "I've been able to put a good amount of time together training and racing, and [I've] stayed healthy and finally gotten my rhythm back again, and that has been huge. It just takes awhile. More importantly, mentally, I'm really starting to figure out what I need to focus on and what my mindset needs to be like on a given day. That is making a big difference in my ability to repeat good performances."

Duggan credits a positive mindset for his success in the face of adversity. His advice for other athletes pursuing success: "Set goals, make a plan—your plan—and stick to it, believe in it. It might not all happen quickly, but don't be always wondering what others are doing or the path they are on. Just pick a path up the mountain and don't give up, and you will get to the top eventually."

Coming back from his painful injuries made Duggan more mentally tough. He now feels strongest during the most difficult points on the course. He says, "I just think that when I'm hurting, everyone else is hurting too. When I want to give up, that's probably when everyone else is about to give up. And that's when everything changes."

Duggan's determination and work ethic have paid off. This year, he's been on a roll, capturing the 112-mile USA Cycling Professional Championship, the King of the Mountain Jersey, Stages 1 and 2, and the 2012 Vuelta Catalunya in Spain.

To gear up for the London Olympic Games this summer, the cyclist has made nutrition and health his top priorities. "[Competing in the Olympics] is intense," Duggan says. "Everybody is so good. The margin between winning and being off the back is actually really small, meaning you need to focus and pay attention to the tiniest details to maximize what you are capable of. I want to be on the starting line healthy and fit… knowing that I have prepared as best I could for this moment in every possible way, and ready to unleash my best performance for my team."

Follow stories from Team USA through STACK's Guide to the Olympics.

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