CINCINNATI -- Mary Wineberg is a Olympic gold medalist in track and field, but to her second-grade students at Hyde Park School, she's Mrs. Wineberg.
"When I was done competing, I knew that I wanted to come back to teaching," she said. "That was my first passion."
Wineberg, a Cincinnati native, was on a track and field scholarship when she earned her bachelor's in education from the University of Cincinnati. She lived out her athletic dreams first as part of the 2008 United States relay team that claimed the gold in the 4 x 400 meters race in Beijing. When she decided to retire from the track, she returned to her academic dreams and her hometown.
That doesn't mean she's totally divorced from the world of athletics -- just like she teaches second graders at Hyde Park, she attends the Olympics and provides support to young athletes competing in her old events.
"My goal is always to stay in touch," she said.
And to offer guidance to others who might have dealt with the issues she's faced throughout her life, such as being adopted. Like many adopted children, she spent much of her life wanting to know more about her own story and why her birth mother chose not to raise her.
Eventually, Wineberg said, she was able to meet -- and forgive -- her birth mother.
Her new book, "Unwavering Perseverance," was released in National Adoption Month, and she hopes it can motivate and inspire other people like her, whether they are adoptees, athletes or people in need of a reminder to persevere.
"When I look back at my story, I have so many things that I can say, wow, this could have deterred me from going here, from going to college, to running post-collegiately to the Olympics," she said. "It's just my will to keep pushing and to keep driving … I don't ever give up."