Growing Up Fast


Gianni Martinez, Sports Editor

Mary Cain was the fastest female runner, until she joined Nike. Mary Cecilia Cain, age 23, is a professional American middle distance runner from Bronxville New York, who attends the University of Portland. Raised just north of New York City in Westchester County, she was first noticed for her amazing running prowess in the 7th grade. Later on she attended Bronxville High School where she had only been running for a short period of time and received numerous state titles as well as numerous national titles while still being an athlete at Bronxville High. She graduated in 2014, and in that same year she set the new World Junior Indoor Record in the 1000 metres, running 2:39.25 at the Boston University Multi-Team Meet.

At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom and in 2013, she was signed by the best track team in the world, Nike’s Oregon Project, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar. Then quickly, things started to change drastically and her fall began to be just as spectacular as her rise. Instead of becoming a beacon for women, she began to be just another female athlete who was beaten down by the harsh conditions and words of her Nike coach, Alberto Salazar. Girls like Cain become used goods, fading away due to the ways he coached her as well as many other female athletes in her division. After months of dieting and frustration, Cain found herself choosing between training with the best team in the world and her health which was quickly faded, and so was her will-power.

Nike has come under fire in recent months for doping charges involving Salazar. He is now banned from the sport for four years, and his elite Nike team has been dismantled. In October, Nike’s chief executive resigned. (In an email, Salazar denied many of Cain’s claims, and said he had supported her health and welfare. Nike did not respond to a request for comment.) The culture that Salazar created remains. This has been very hard for Cain and other female athletes, to Salazar they were just seen as unfit for the job, yet they were seen by others as the best in all of sports history. Cain was forced to choose between her future and her health. Mary Cain is 23, and her story certainly isn’t over. By speaking out, she’s making sure of that.