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How To Deal With Unexpected Change: An Olympic Athlete’s Lesson In Resilience

How To Deal With Unexpected Change: An Olympic Athlete’s Lesson In Resilience

“I have big goals and I know the light is still there.”

You know that saying, The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”? Well, what could be better planned than the Olympic Games — something no one could have predicted would go awry! 

2020 has been a year of change and cancellations, something LonoLife friend, Sarah Robles, is all too familiar with. Robles — a 2x Olympian and World Champ Women’s weightlifter — saw her hopes of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics dashed as Covid-19 effectively canceled all large events across the globe. After years of training and podiums within reach, Sarah had to face the fact that her dreams would have to be deferred. 

We checked in with Sarah to see how she was dealing with the disappointment, what plans she had in place for the future, and how to bounce back from setbacks like a pro. We think you’ll be inspired by her responses.


Let’s start with a little Sarah Robles history: how would you summarize your career highlights for our readers who are less familiar with female weightlifting?

I was a former division 1 track and field athlete and switched sports (to weightlifting) after my sophomore year. In my sport, we compete in two disciplines: snatch and clean and jerk. It’s the only barbell sport contested at the Olympic games. It’s a competition of strength and power, athleticism, and mental fortitude. My best snatch is 281 lbs and my best clean and jerk is 356 lbs. Some of my accomplishments include being a two time Olympian, Olympic Medalist, Pan American Games Champion, World Champion, and seven time national champion.

Sarah Robles Olympic Athlete

With this being your 3rd time competing in the Olympics, what were you most looking forward to?

We still have some qualification to go through but, if I qualify, this will be my 3rd Olympic Games. I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to fight for another Olympic medal. No other woman in USA weightlifting’s history has more than one Olympic medal.


How did you feel when you first realized the Olympics would not be happening in 2020?

Very disappointed. I know many of us wanted to go and felt like our positions were pretty secure. We were ok still going even if the format was significantly changed but, now, we’re just training and getting back to the drawing board with our plans for competitions and training. Motivation is a little difficult when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but I have big goals and I know the light is still there.


You always seem so positive. How did you deal with the disappointment?

We’ve all had disappointment in our lives. Every mistake I’ve made or disappointment I’ve encountered has always taught me something and fortified me. The next time I get on my feet, I’m better than I was before I got knocked down. I just keep looking forward and try to have a good sense of humor.


Is it tough to keep up your level of training without knowing when you will next compete?

I thrive under pressure and love competing. That’s when I’m truly at my best. So, not having a sure plan is difficult. It’s hard to train and train and train and not know when you can challenge yourself and see if it’s all working. I know this won’t last forever and in the meantime, I’m going to try and stay healthy and count my blessings.


How important has your mindset been in contributing to your success?

Very important! The only thing that’s truly ever gotten in my way has been myself. So, I started working with a couple of people to get my mind right and it’s been working wonders. Shifting your focus so that it’s positive, helpful, and accurate is super important. I would like to encourage everyone to seek help when you need it.


What advice do you have for LonoLife readers who have faced unexpected changes and setbacks this year?

Focus on your blessings and the things you can control, have a good routine, be creative, lean on your faith or whatever spiritual practice you have and have a good sense of humor.


Follow Sarah @roblympian for more daily inspiration.

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