She has overcome enormous medical odds to become a competitor in this year’s Games.
Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. She Was Diagnosed With Piriformis Syndrome
According to her website, Lamb was diagnosed with Piriformis syndrome in the spring of 2007.
The condition occurs when the piriformis muscle impinges the sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness in the hip. Doctors told Lamb she would never skate again, but the River Falls, Wisconsin, native refused to give up on the sport she loved so much.
2. She Qualified for Sochi 2 Days After a Trip to the ER
Amazingly, Lamb was confined to a hospital bed two days before punching her ticket to Sochi as a member of the U.S. long-track speed skating squad, the News-Herald reported.
Lamb fell victim to a barrage of excruciating migraine headaches in the middle of Olympic qualifying. She was severely dehydrated and couldn’t keep any food down, prompting a trip to the emergency room. She was released after five hours of treatment — with qualifying for the women’s 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter events just 48 hours away.
In an incredible display of strength and resiliency, Lamb — skating on just two hours of sleep — qualified for the Olympics.
She told the News-Herald:
Have to say when you’re lying there and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m on oxygen, I have an IV in my arm, I’m pumped full of painkillers … and I have to make the Olympic team in two days?’ It’s a little bit scary,” Lamb explained. “I just tried to focus on what I could do to get better.”
Watch her qualifying skate below:
3. The 5,000-Meter Race is Her Specialty
Lamb’s specialty is the 5,000-meter race.
She told the News-Herald:
I know making the Olympic team is always hard — I’ve been around long enough to know that, but [the 5,000 meter] is my best race.”
She was the 2010 and 2013 U.S. champion in the 5,000-meter race. She placed 11th in the same event at the 2013 World Championships.
4. She Began Speed Skating at Age 8
Lamb’s mother introduced her to figure skating when she was six years old, according to her website. However, she quickly discovered that she was far more interested in skating fast than learning how to perform jumps and spins.
Two years later, at age eight, she began speed skating — and hasn’t looked back since.
5. Sochi Will Be Her Third Olympics
Lamb was a competitor for the U.S. Olympic Team in Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010). She has not medaled at the Olympics, but hopes to bring home some hardware after Sochi.
Lamb’s best overall performance is a fifth-place finish in the team pursuit event at the Torino Olympics. Her best individual performance is 11th place, which she took in the 5,000-meter event in Vancouver.
You can learning more about Maria’s journey to Sochi by reading her blog.
— Maria Lamb (@MariaTLamb) January 28, 2014