Training for the Olympics is hard enough. Imagine being in law school at the same time. That's a challenge Glastonbury’s Donn Cabral took on.
“So many runners, when you tell someone that you're a professional runner they say ‘well have you been to the Olympics?’ Or they ask if you've run a marathon,” said Cabral. He’s done both.
Cabral is a two-time Olympian, representing Team USA in the steeplechase in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. He was aiming to make it three in 2020 when the games were postponed.
“I had some issues with my knees and just my body wasn't holding up great so it was a blessing in disguise that the Games did get pushed back,” Cabral said. “I needed that time and I took a hard reset.”
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
Cabral could give it one more year but no more. This would be his chance to finish his career on his own terms.
“I liken it to having a series that was supposed to go three seasons and they cancel it after two,” said Cabral’s coach, Peter Oviatt. “That doubt and that unfinished business, in some ways that would never go away.”
In full-circle fashion, Oviatt was Cabral’s coach in his first year on the track back at Glastonbury High School. After some time apart, the two got back together again for his last.
But it didn't take a 15-year relationship to know Cabral's heart was in two places: the 31-year-old was in his final year at UConn Law and looking forward to what was to come off the track.
“There's only so much room in your heart for what you can be excited about and so the more I think about what's next as a lawyer the less I’m thinking about running,” said Cabral.
The pandemic pushed Cabral’s classes online, so he was able to train for Tokyo in Arizona, while still keeping up with his schoolwork. He’d done this balancing act before: Cabral made his first Olympics while finishing his degree at Princeton.
“You need to do what a lot of athletes don't do which is recognize that they're not going to be professional athletes at age 40, 50,” said Oviatt, of Cabral’s foresight on his life after running.
Though his focus on the present may have been a challenge at times, his excitement for the future is a gift.
“As soon as he stops running, even so much as far as his rhythm, he's just right back into a complete, normal life,” said Oviatt.
Donn Cabral: a lawyer, who just happens to be an Olympian.
“It's so different that I’m so lucky that I have made the Olympics so I can come into this year kind of with that weight off my chest,” said Cabral.
He came up just short in Olympic qualifiers, but as with many things for Cabral this past year, there’s a silver lining: his bar exam was scheduled right during the Tokyo Olympics. Rather than postpone or try to take it virtually in Tokyo, Cabral was able to stay on track for his next chapter.