Wouter Weylandt, a 26-year-old cyclist from Belgium, crashed and died after clipping a wall in the Giro d’Italia race yesterday. Weylandt fell at high speed during a descent about 12.4 miles from the finish and lay motionless on the roadside before paramedics tried to resuscitate him. Terribly, terribly sad. But the worst part? His girlfriend, Anne Sophie, is pregnant.
I guess I haven't really thought about it until now -- athletes' jobs can be dangerous. I never dated athletes. Much to my parents' delight, it was always poets, musicians, and dudes who are "totally going to make it big with their t-shirt line." Because of this, the only thing I ever really had to worry about was whether or not I had enough money to foot the lunch bill. I never had to stress about these guys being in harm's way. This, unfortunately, isn't always the case for the ladies who fall for athletes.
We always think about military wives and girlfriends, and although the two professions are extremely different, both sets of women have reason to be nervous. Especially with a sport like cycling. Flying down hills and lightning speed -- one wrong move, and well, you know. Poor, poor Anne Sophie. And poor baby. He or she will never get to know their father.
However, if today's tribute to him is any indication of how his memory will be kept alive, baby will certainly know how loved his or her daddy is. During the fourth stage of the race, Weyland's teammates crossed the finish line side by side and with their arms linked in his honor. Also, no points were awarded today. Instead, the group rode together with each team taking the lead at intervals of six miles. Then, with less than two miles to go, Weylandt's Leopard-Trek team was waived to the front to cross the line first.
So sweet, but so sad. Wives and girlfriends of professional athletes, I have a whole new respect for you.
What do you think about the risk that comes with playing professional sports?