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Woman to compete in Olympics 17 years after eating disorder forced her to quit sports

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Race walker Robyn Stevens is heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo with Team USA this month 17 years after she retired from competition because of an eating disorder. Stevens, 38, who lives in Vacaville, California, talked about her health struggle and comeback in an interview with TODAY.

I showed signs that I could develop an eating disorder in my senior year of high school. I remember getting on the scale and seeing that I weighed 100 pounds — I had always been under 100. In my head, seeing the three digits just seemed like a lot. I was only 4 feet, 11 inches tall.

It fully developed in freshman year of college. I was at an indoor meet and when a girl won an event, one of my coaches said, “Yes, she did well, but imagine how much faster she would be if she were skinnier.” It registered in my head as something that might be a possibility for why I wasn’t going faster.

My goal was to go to the 2004 Olympics and race walk, but there were all these things going on with my body. I went through late puberty so I didn’t start developing breasts until that first year of college. I looked heavier. The coach would have weigh-ins in front of everyone.

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