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'Female athletes are so underrated'

Local runner Mandy Leonardi provides inspiration for young girls, women

Article by Wendy Sack

Photography by Fox and Hound Photography, contributed

Originally published in Cullman City Lifestyle

Local athlete Mandy Leonardi loves to run. She loves to race. "I love to race. I love to see how far and how fast I can push myself," she said.

She also believes that female athletes should inspire young girls to get active.

“I would say 1,000% yes,” she replied when asked. In fact, she said, “I think female athletes should strive to inspire all females, young and old, to want to be active. Being active and choosing to participate in some activity boosts self-esteem and confidence while teaching you how to handle emotions and balance a schedule. Female athletes are so underrated, and the world needs more of them to show everyone how empowering women in athletics can be.”

Leonardi has five pieces of advice for young girls about sports:

“One: Always have an unwavering belief in yourself; always keep your eyes up and dream from your soul. Two: Sometimes being underrated is the best advantage. Three: Always know that you can truly accomplish anything if you refuse to give up. Four: Never be afraid to fail. Failure is a stepping stone to success; if you have not failed, you have not tried hard enough yet. Five: Cheering on other female athletes does not diminish your success; it creates a bond of unstoppable, inspirational women who can help each other achieve greater.”

When asked for tips she would give women who are looking to start getting healthier, Leonardi shared, “Choose to do it, and just start; do not ever look back. Set goals along the way; set smaller weekly goals – this will keep you mentally positive and it gives you something to strive for that is attainable in shorter measures. Then set a huge goal, something hard, something that could take months or longer - something that keeps you going and really pushing yourself to never quit. Last, write down five reasons why – big reasons – not to look cute in a bikini, but hard, deep reasons (I want to play with my grandkids one day; I want to do something I’ve never done, I want to have a family, I want to get off medicine, I want to find myself, etc.). Pick five and live by those reasons. Read them daily – read them when you want to quit, read them when you feel like it’s too hard, read them when you are tired. Just read them daily.”

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