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2012 Olympian in Weight Lifting
Told to Anne Kelly, December 2012
Tell us your Olympic Story. What was the proudest moment for you?
I had a fantastic Olympic experience. I went out about 1.5-2 weeks before Opening Ceremonies to acclimate. My coach and I learned a lot and did a little bit of sightseeing before I had to crack down. Most of my time was spent in sports med, the training hall, and the cafeteria. I had 9 family members come to watch. I enjoyed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies but the best part was actually competing. While I was lifting, people were chanting "USA." The crowd was fantastic and everyone was supportive of all of the athletes. My proudest moment was wearing my USA singlet and lifting personal records in the biggest and most intense competition in the entire world. I was proud to show people that when it matters the most, I could bring it. Seeing and hearing thousands of people all there to see me lift was so amazing.
What was the hardest thing you had to overcome on your journey to the Olympics. What was the most surprising thing you learned?
The hardest thing I had to overcome was the mental challenges I had after an extremely disappointing performance at the Pan American Games. It was an important meet that I should have won. It was a continental championship set up like a miniature Olympics. It was a great learning experience at the end of the day but, it was pretty traumatic at the time. It shook my confidence. Each meet after that getting ready for and at the Olympics, I started getting it back and had a great performance. The most surprising thing I learned was more of a confirmation of what I already knew than anything. The opinion of others and their support should not dictate what I think about myself. My opinions and and my coach's opinions were the only ones that mattered at the end of the day. If we were happy, that's what mattered. I'm thankful for all the support my friends, family, and country gave me during these past few years but, I definitely learned to appreciate my own support as well.
What is next for you? What are you most looking forward to? What are the challenges you will need to overcome to get where you want to go?
After taking some time off, I decided to train for Rio in 2016. I have a few competitions coming up in the next year that will be great experiences for me and will hopefully present opportunities for some major titles and medals. I hope to break the American and Pan American Records. I am looking forward to hopefully go on one international training camp a year leading up to the next Games and get some quality publicity for myself. I have a message I want to share. I hope people will give me the chance.
Let’s talk size. How does your weight function help you lift?
I'm almost 6 feet tall so for me to be in a different weight class or a different sport, isn't very likely. My body weight helps me lift heavier amounts of weight because the weight lifted is in fact a lower percentage of my body weight than it would be for someone who is lighter. Having more mass (good mass) than the average person is advantageous because my body is sturdy and can handle the pounding of weightlifting pretty well. For me to be in the next weight class down, I'd have to be a good 100 lbs lighter. For me to lose that amount of weight and be able to keep my strength, is pretty impossible. I may as well embrace the size I am and use it to my advantage. Everyone has a different body type and size and is more suited to different activities than others. So we all might as well work with what God gave us. Make it as healthy and as able as possible
What issues do you have in finding clothing – what do you hope JunoActive will make for you in the future?
I have a different shaped body than what most plus size companies make clothes for. I am not hour-glassed or pear shaped by any means. I have broad shoulders and back, a small bust, lean legs, no hips, and long arms. It's difficult to find any particular piece of clothing to fit exactly the way I'd like so I have to get pretty creative. I really like the one piece bathing suits you had with the legs. I would use it as a singlet instead of a bathing suit. If I could work with you guys on custom singlets, that would be really cool. I think a lot of girls in my weight class would be for some more feminine options. In my sport, I really just need shorts, pants, and capris that are really stretchy. Weightlifters love tights. Especially capri tights. Basic t-shirts are good. Nothing too crazy. Oh and a nice warm up outfit that I can wear to competitions. It would be nice not to have to wear men's clothes just because they fit. I'm pretty easy to please. I tried to wear one of your bras before and the band size was too small. I am not sure what size ranges you have.
What do you tell girls who are larger than average about handling their self-esteem?
I say love what you got. If you have health issues or things like that that need to get addressed, address them. If not, be fit and active no matter what your size. Find activities you enjoy. Sports, social, creative, etc. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you tend to be more confident. After a while, I got tired of hiding and being ashamed of myself. It's so liberating to just give that up and enjoy life.
Who have been your most important mentors and people who have helped you along the way?
My coaches have always been positive as well as most people in my sport anyway. They really understand how you feel and understand that each weightclass/person is different and should be treated as such. We all have the common thread of goals, trials and tribulations, and successes. My mom has always loved and supported me and will be there for me after a bad time and when my career is all said and done so I know I can rely on her. It's always nice to have someone in your corner.
What advice do you have for all athletes seeking to be the top in their event? What about us everyday athletes, any words of wisdom?
Being the best really is about everyday decisions. When you go to bed, who you hang out with, how often you train, nutrition, recovery, what you wear, etc. are all constant daily decisions that need to be made. When you make good decisions, they support your goals and will hopefully help you accomplish them. Being a top athlete is a 24/7 job. There is no time off. There are no sick days. There are no vacations. 24/7 for however long it takes you to get there. If you are intense and dedicated enough to make those sacrifices, you can be on top. Everyday athletes, need to make goals too but, be reasonable too. Keep in mind your schedule, your commitments and be realistic with your expectations. Sometimes progress takes a while to achieve. Stay patient and keep pushing. Doing something active that's fun for you will be the best. If you hate what you're doing, it'll be difficult to get in and stay in shape. Realize that you can be "in shape" while being in "different shapes."
Find Sarah Robles at prettystrongblog.blogspot.com