Olympic Weightlifting taught me grit for life

Grit meaning:

a) courage and determination despite difficulty

b) courage and resolve; strength of character

If you had to look at me now you would have never thought that when I started this sport I had no coordination, my knees rolled in and elbows buckled with every weight I tried to lift. I used to cry when I kept on failing the same weight over again or when my coach kept telling me what I was doing was wrong. I definitely didn’t have any talent or grit to start with – but It isn’t just the physical attributes I have gained in this sport. I have learnt so many valuable life lessons and most importantly how to work hard for what you want. I have also gained an invaluable amount of character as well as mental strength that has got me through many challenges that life has handed me so far.

In the sport of Olympic Weightlifting you have to be mentally strong and dedicated to your goals. Not just part time but every day from the moment you wake up to when you rest your head at night. It is so hard to ‘make it’ if you don’t put in everything you have from time, effort, eating habits, training – the list goes on. I learnt this as I grew in the sport.

I wrote down goals and divided them into long term and short term. Then I decided and researched what it would take to meet them. If I didn’t put in the work 100% then I fell behind and kept failing. Every failure pushed me more to be better. This is where the grit comes in. Staying committed to my goals by just pushing a little harder every day and broadening my base took me a little step closer. It didn’t matter who told me I couldn’t do it – in my head I was going to.

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I remember going to training sessions and missing every lift I attempted but I kept going until I got them, I remember training till 10pm on a Sunday evening because my morning training session didn’t go as planned, I remember my coach telling me that I may not have talent but if I keep working hard I will surpass others who do – so that’s exactly what I did. I trained my ass off every day for hours in the gym and inside my head mentally until I reached my goals.

An example of how I persevered and overcame challenges was Western Province Championships 2015 vs 2016 – which I think for me was one of my biggest accomplishments in my life to date. I was still very new to the sport in 2015 and this was my first championships. I worked hard and put it all out there on the platform. Unfortunately I bombed out (A term used to describe when an athlete misses all attempts and is disqualified from the competition) on all 3 Jerks at 70kg. My elbow kept on buckling and I dropped the weight. I was so angry at myself and ugly cried for hours when I got home but there was no point in being upset as this was just a learning curve and an opportunity to get better. I spent 2 hours the following Monday morning just doing Jerk drills over and over. I swore it would never happen again and that year was the hardest I had ever trained. Some days would be 5 hours of just practicing technique and extra on Sundays if I could. There were countless times where I doubted myself and the training but I just kept showing up. WP 2016 had arrived and I was confident I had put in everything I had. I ended the day becoming WP Champion (over all best female lifter), Gold in all three lifts as well as breaking the WP snatch record which had been standing for over 6 years. I snatched 71kg that day – 1 kilo more than my failed Jerks the previous year.

The following year I decided to take a break from weightlifting for personal reasons that I have shared on my blog. See this post. Even though I had my struggles I am so thankful and grateful for what this sport taught me.

Here are a few of the notable lessons:

  • If you have a goal (whatever it may be) write it down and then think about the steps you need to take in order to get there.
  • Hard work and effort beat talent almost every time. I believe that more than anything.
  • Persevere through the hard times, always. It’s not going to be a walk in the park 100% of the journey but the difficult obstacles are the most valuable of teachers.
  • If you truly know you can achieve something, even in your heart you can feel yourself doing it then that’s most difficult work done because if you can’t believe in your own aspirations then how do you move forward?
  • Love what you do. In sport, education, friends, family or career. If you don’t love it then how can it be sustainable.
  • Don’t worry about what anybody else is doing in life – it has nothing to do with yours. Your only battle and comparison should be yourself!

Thanks Olympic Weightlifting for giving me this gift for life, it’s one I couldn’t have found else where.

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A relentless passion for whatever you do in life will get you exactly where you want to be..

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