|Robin Goad in action in the women's 48kg weightlifting event at the Convention Centre in Darling Harbour at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on Sept. 17, 2000.|
Every now and then, Sydney Goad will look around the room and just start laughing.
How can she not?
There she will be, in the weight room of her family’s Newman, Ga., house. Working out next to 15-year-old Sydney is her mother, Robin, and her father, Dean. And then her younger siblings, Dean Jr. and Rubylin, are down there pumping iron, too.
A family of five — all weightlifters, all working out together, all in the name of family bonding, fueled by a burning desire for greatness.
This really gives new meaning to wanting a strong family life.
“In this family, we don’t have any trouble moving furniture,” Robin joked.
Robin is a former world champion and world-record holder who earned a fifth-place finish in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Dean is also a former world champ and a medalist in the Pan American Games. Robin comes mostly from a snatch background, while Dean’s specialty was the clean-and-jerk.
“We’ve always joked,” Robin said, “that I’ll bring my snatch technique and training to the table, and he’ll bring his clean-and-jerk training to the table, and we ought to have a perfect little weightlifter.”
That brings us to Sydney, who is just a 10th grader — an ordinary girl with extraordinary strength. Simply put, you’d never know by looking at her that she dominated the youth weightlifting circuit in 2012. You’d never know that she holds many youth records.
“A lot of people are surprised when they find out I do weightlifting,” said Sydney, who got involved with the sport at 8. “I explain to them that there are weight classes, and even though I’m really small, I can still do well.”
“Well” is an understatement.
Sydney set 18 American weightlifting records last year, including multiple 44-kilogram marks at the Junior National Championships, Youth National Championships and Youth World Championships.
“I’m just in awe of everything she’s been able to accomplish,” Robin said. “She’s more dedicated at 15 than I think I ever was.”
Sydney’s training regimen is made more complicated by the fact that weightlifting isn’t her only sport. Far from it. Sydney actually is a Level 10 gymnast who has been doing gymnastics since she was 18 months old. She practices gymnastics five days a week and works on weightlifting four or five days a week — often at 10 or 11 p.m. Rarely does she get a day off from both sports.
Robin also competed in gymnastics until she was 15 years old. At that point, she opted to focus on weightlifting, though she is still involved with gymnastics as a coach. However, she does not coach Sydney in either sport. Advice? Sure. But coaching? Not her job.
“My role is to give her a lot of perspective in terms of overall health and nutrition and time management,” Robin said. “Of course I give her tips on technique from time to time.”
Sydney, who is named after the site of the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, leaves no doubt as to who deserves the credit for her early-age success.
“My mom’s had a huge impact, and my dad has too,” Sydney said. “I want to be like both of them, and they inspire me. I feel like what they’ve done in their weightlifting career — I want to be like that.”
Sydney, who turns 16 this month, is comfortable at the moment with her dual focus on weightlifting and gymnastics. That said, she realizes that at some point — whether it’s a year from now or five years from now — that she will need to focus on lifting weights.
“She’ll know when the time is right for her transition,” Robin said. “But the decision is all hers. We’re not going to force anything on her.”
“They’ll be fine with whatever I decide to do,” Sydney added, confidently.
As a 3-year-old, Sydney was at the 2000 Olympic Games rooting on her mother from the stands. She doesn’t remember much from her time in Australia, but Robin certainly does.
“You could hear her saying ‘Go Mom’ over the entire arena. It was an amazing moment,” Robin said. “And to know that people like my daughter, who was sitting in the audience at 3 years old, would one day have the opportunity (to compete in the Olympic Games), it all came full circle in that moment.”
And now, nearly 13 years later, Sydney has her own Olympic aspirations.
“Yes! All the time!” she said when asked if she dreams of the Olympic Games. “That would be a goal. … I can just (envision my mom) cheering me on, with family and other people that I know. I want to be the best that I can be and hopefully that will be really good.”
Robin, who knows what it takes to reach the highest levels of weightlifting, sees no reason why her daughter can’t be a U.S. Olympian one day.
“I really think Sydney can go as far as possible in weightlifting,” Robin said. “I think all options are open for her. I have no doubts that she will accomplish anything she wants to do.”
“I want to be the best I can possibly be,” Sydney added. “If I’m not going to try my hardest, then what’s the point of trying?”