Maggie Coles-Lyster

Chasing her Olympic dream since she was 8 years old.

Countless times she could have given up, but she has fearlessly continued on. And today, her story is empowering female athletes like herself who experience situations that no woman should ever encounter to stand together for action.

Maggie is proof that if you can see it, you can be it. Her Dad owned a bike shop and cycling team that 2012 Olympic medalists Laura Brown, Jasmin Glaesser, and Gillian Carleton raced for. All of these cyclists are also multiple CAN Fund recipients and are the role models who sparked Maggie’s Olympic dream.

In 2017 Maggie was competing at the Junior World Championships in three different disciplines and by age 17 Maggie was standing on multiple Junior World podiums. Her success subsequently earned her a spot on a Belgian road team which is common in cycling to compete on teams in Europe “the hub” of the sport. Away from home and at her first competition with the Belgian team the unthinkable happened. During her first post-race massage she was sexually assaulted by the team masseuse. He proceeded to assault her in every post-race session for the remainder of the week. Maggie was only 18 years old, still in high school and terrified of speaking out worried about repercussions that could ensue regarding her career and Olympic dream. Victims guilt, uncomfortable, confused, is this normal? What will people say? so much for Maggie to process.

“Originally, I tried to deny it and block it from my memory. At that age, it’s hard not to blame yourself for something like that and be embarrassed and ashamed by it. You work so hard in cycling to make it to Europe that you feel you have to stay quiet and don’t want to jeopardize that opportunity.”

In the following year Maggie suffered 3 concussions, 4 fractures to her face, a punctured lung and broken ribs sustained from severe crashes in 3 consecutive races. The impact of returning from injury too quickly, struggling mentally and physically exhausted from mounting comeback after comeback led Maggie to take a break from sport. Maggie rediscovered her love of cycling and returned to competition in 2019 winning two silver medals at the Pan Am Games. It was a disappointing blow not to be given the opportunity to make the 2020 Olympic team, but Maggie used the pandemic to get stronger and faster than ever. And in 2020 after 3 years of emotional and mental trauma, Maggie went public with her story.

“The more people who talk about this, the more stories that will come out and the more action that will hopefully be taken.”

A 15-year journey and at 23-years-old Maggie is currently the top road sprinter in North America, the current elite women’s road race and criterium national champion. But more importantly, she is a woman with incredible strength and courage whose powerful story is inspiring others with similar experiences to come forward for positive change.

Maggie is on a mission to Paris 2024 with the podium in her sights. When not traveling to races she teaches spin and yoga to supplement the costs of competing for Canada. Costs that despite personal best results will increase this season as less funding is available to the track team. To realize her dream it will take racing more in Europe and working with the best support team possible. CAN Fund #150Women can be the difference that Maggie needs at this crucial stage in her journey.