Runner Maddy Price Reaches Olympic Dream Five Years After Losing Her Dad To Cancer

Elliott Almond
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Elliot Almond reports, “Maddy Price is headed to the Olympics. Born in Palo Alto with dual citizenship, the two-time Central Coast champion from Menlo School, will represent Canada as a member of the 4X400 relay team.”

San Jose

The last time Maddy Price’s father saw her race, she finished fifth in the 400 meters. She left the track devastated as the four runners ahead of her qualified for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

That was in 2016 at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials. Price did not know then that her father had been diagnosed with late-stage melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer that spreads to other parts of the body. Shawn Price, a well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur and motorsports adventurer, was dead 3 1/2 months later. He was 53.

Now Maddy Price is headed to the Olympics. Born in Palo Alto with dual citizenship, the two-time Central Coast champion from Menlo School, will represent Canada as a member of the 4X400 relay team.

Maddy wishes… well, we all know what she wishes.

“But at the same time, I know that he’s with me on this,” said Price, 25.

“That dream was theirs,” her mom, Sarah, said.

Maddy learned she made the team in early July while visiting her younger sister in Scotland, where Nikky Price is a graduate student at the University of St. Andrews. Sarah joined her daughters by phone and later planted flags of Canada and the Olympics on the back deck of her San Francisco home.
Five years ago, none of these seemed possible. Maddy required time to return to the track. The loss of her father had been too much to bear.

Shawn called her before every race, no matter where in the world he was. He was the one to console her after the 2016 Olympics trials, saying how proud he was of her effort no matter the result.

Now every time Maddy went to the starting line, she felt like throwing up and crying.

Sarah Price reminded her daughter, “You’re going back out there for you now, not for your dad.”

Maddy returned to Duke University in 2016 and eventually earned degrees in sociology, political science and management studies. She also became a six-time All-American and has remained in Durham, North Carolina while pursuing a professional running career.

In 2019, Price competed in the World Relays in Japan, World University Games in Italy, and the World Championships in Qatar.

Since Shawn’s passing, Sarah Price has become her daughter’s primary supporter. At the World Championships in Doha, she sat in the same seat every day so Maddy could easily spot her.

Before each race her mom attends, Maddy touches her nose and points to the sky to acknowledge both parents.

That won’t be possible in Tokyo because no fans are permitted inside Olympic venues, an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Price has no idea yet whether she will race in the 1,600-meter relay scheduled for Aug. 5 and 7. Canada’s coaches won’t announce the relay lineups until closer to the event.

Sarah Price, who runs a Bay Area group for Canadians called the Digital Moose Lounge, is flying to Toronto to watch the Summer Olympics with family.

From Tokyo to Toronto, Shawn Price’s shadow will loom large.

Price had channeled his inner Indiana Jones while carving out a successful career in Silicon Valley.

After helping three tech companies go public in the 1990s, he took a sabbatical from the cyberworld to step into an even faster lane. In late 2002, Price finished first in his division at the popular Baja 1000 on a Honda XR650R motorcycle.

A few months later, he rode an Austrian-made KTM motorcycle in the infamous 7,000-mile Paris to Dakar off-road race. He won the 2005 Rolex 24-hour GT Class race in Daytona while driving a Porsche GT3.

He spoke Swahili, French and German, having lived abroad because his father was a Canadian foreign diplomat.

Upon returning to the startup world, Price served as executive vice president Cloud at SAP and then senior vice president of Cloud at Oracle Corporation.

He turned to sailboat regattas a few years after shattering his leg when smashing into a canyon wall going 160 mph at the SCORE San Felipe 250. Price had led the 2008 race before crashing.

“He didn’t think he was going to walk again,” Maddy said.

Price bought a high-end Scott road bicycle to help in the recovery that took more than a year.

After she’d had foot surgery in 2019 to treat a lingering stress fracture, Maddy remembered her dad’s tenacity in recovering the use of his leg. She bought a used bike at a Salvation Army store to work her way back into Olympic-potential shape.

That would not do. Sarah shipped her Shawn Price’s yellow-and-black road bike that had stickers honoring him. Maddy rode the bike along the 22-mile American Tobacco Trail in the Triangle region feeling her dad’s presence.
“I can’t call him and talk about my training day,” she said. “I can get on this bike and feel really connected to him.”

When Maddy was 9, her dad took her for a spin in a race car. Maddy wore an adult-size helmet over her tiny head and thought it was just the coolest ride ever.

Ultimately, she relied on her own two legs to go fast.

“I know he just wanted us to be unafraid in the world and just try everything,” she said of her dad.

Sarah Price never protested, not even when the daughters got dirt bikes.

“I was OK with it,” she said. “It was his life. It is part of who the girls are now.”

The parents also taught their kids that accomplishments on a resume do not define their lives.

Maddy now understands what they meant.

Had she been a step faster in 2016, Price would have gone to Rio that summer. But making the Olympics would have meant losing an extra month with her dad.

Price would have missed the last family camping trip in the redwoods above Pescadero. She would have missed the olallieberry pie at Durate’s Tavern that her father loved. She would have missed sharing walks on the beach and seafood dinners.

Price would have missed everything that matters.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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