It's no secret that I'm a fan of weightlifting. I really do enjoy it, but I also love triathlon and it's a challenge to share time between the two. This year though, before my injury (which was related to walking in high-heels and not lifting or triathlon!), I was managing to get 3 days of lifting, along with my tri training. I was getting stronger and loving it. No one needs to make a believer out of me. I AM a believer.
I can't say I paid a ton of attention to Olympic weightlifting, in that I am an astute, long-time follower. Several years back though, Cheryl Haworth caught my attention and I loved her story. At the 2000 Olympics, 17 years old, 5'8" and 300 lbs., Cheryl brought the Bronze medal home. On of my favorite quotes from her is, "It's fun to be strong."
Indeed it is. And I've always remembered that.
For me, post-RNY surgery, I spent 2 years weight training with a trainer. My only objective was to lift, so as to minimize the loss of muscle mass post-op. Even though the closest thing I did to Olympic style movement was squats, it was still enough for me to build my appreciation for being strong and what it does for your body. I learned that when I lifted regularly, everything felt better. Everything.
Since then, I got back into Triathlon, but through some constant reminding/gentle persuasion/jedi mind tricks, my Chiro, who also coaches an olympic weightlifting team and owns Crossfit Box, finally got me to come "play" with them after my Thyroid symptoms went unimproved for over 2 years and I couldn't loose any weight (despite training for the MS150 and 3 Half Ironman races). Long story short, I did play. I changed to eating a clean, Paleo diet. The results have been surprising. But, along with my improved health, I found that weightlifting gives me something I don't get from triathlon.
While I love triathlon and I still desperately want to do an Ironman one day, there is something about weightlifting that feels natural to me. Lord knows I wasn't built for speed. I've been told by a couple of trainers I just have a natural affinity for weightlifting and getting stronger. Even my Chiro once said to me, "When will you realize you're a weightlifter?!" LOL
When I lift I feel strong. I feel confident.
With triathlon I feel strong and confident and after the accomplishment.
It's okay... I can love both triathlon and weightlifting. I'm not dreaming of weightlifting at the Olympics. LOL
But there are some who do, like Sarah Robles and Jessica Gallagher; the girls who author the blog Pretty Strong. Some of those dreams are about to come true via the 2012 Olympics in London for Sarah Robles. The more I read about their stories, the more intrigued I become.
So here we are with the 2012 Olympics approaching and I follow the US Olympic teams a little more closely these days. Between triathlon, swimming, cycling, running and weightlifting, I love the Summer Olympics. At the time I started following the Pretty Strong blog, Sarah and Jessica were 2 Olympic hopefuls. Sarah Robles (along with Holley Mangold, another great story) is going to compete in the super heavyweight class at the 2012 Olympics. Yay!
This morning I get on Facebook and find my Crossfit coach posted this story about Sarah. It was titled, "The Strongest Woman in America Lives in Poverty." Okay, that caught my attention. I read the article and was dumb-founded. In part because I hadn't thought deeply enough about the subject, but when I did it really hit me. I'll preface this by saying, I respect and appreciate ALL Olympic athletes. If you've made the US Olympic team, you deserve kudos! What's makes me sad about this story is how these super heavyweight lifters, will most likely, never see sponsorship opportunities post Olympics that other athletes do. All because they don't fit the general perception of "healthy."
It is likely these super heavyweights women won't see those super-heavyweight sponsorship paychecks because they don't have LoLo, Phelps, or Lochte bodies. Maybe, MAYBE if they were men, it they might have a slight edge, but that's another story.
These athletes stay the course, even though there is likely to be no
proverbial "pot of gold" at the end of their Olympic rainbow (and they
pretty much know it). They persevere, dedicated to becoming the best they can be. Being the best is the only thing driving
them. I can't imagine them being afforded the opportunity to waste one
ounce of energy on "hoping" for this or that.
What makes it so unfortunate, in my mind, is that these HEALTHY, STRONG athletes are incredibly good role models for our youth -- and maybe even more so because of their increased determination to override the additional struggle and obstacles their own bodies create.
They even face obstacles being outfitted to wear Team USA clothing, for crying out loud! Why should these world-class athletes have this additional, nonsensical stress? It's such BS! If you're a designer for Team USA, you gotta know It's a pretty broad range of sizes in both men and women! With that said, there is no complaining by these athletes, just a simple statement of their reality. No requests for special treatment. To them it's just a reality they have to accept, process and just continue to press forward with in order to be the best in London.
Reading the article moved me to the point of writing Sarah and sharing my brief thoughts and a virtual high-five for what she's accomplished. I had already made a small donation to the US Olympic team; not nearly anything that would help on it's own, but I wanted to know what could be done for her directly. I found this page on the blog that lists all the ways you can help, and they don't necessarily have to be donating money.
If you have a moment, take a look at the list. If you can help in some way, just do it! :)