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'Do-my-best' approach leads to victory at Senior Olympics

Sally Robertson trained at medical clinic in Castle Rock


She's 80 years old, and a newly minted Olympian athlete.

Sally Robertson of Deer Trail, spent several months in 2017, starting at age 79, launching a consistent exercise routine for the first time in her life at the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital HealthFit Gym, a fitness-based clinic.

Robertson took her new life track one step farther when she entered the Wyoming Senior Olympics in August.

“It was a little bit scary,” she said of the competition. “I needed to just focus on what I could do and do my best.”

Robertson's “do-my-best” game plan worked — she won her 80-and-over division in the deadlift at 125 pounds.

Her journey to the Senior Olympics began in March when Robertson's husband, Bob, started training at HealthFit in Castle Rock. Bob considered himself an active person who got good exercise from working around the house, but at 79 years old, housework was no longer enough.

He began struggling to get out of a chair, so sought the help of kinesiologists at HealthFit, where he learned his IT band — the spring-like tissue a person uses when getting out of a chair — was locked up. Trainers prescribed exercise.

“I was getting out of a chair without anybody's help after a week,” Bob said.

As Bob started his fitness journey, Sally learned more about programs offered at HealthFit Gym and decided to join classes for herself. She began working on heavy, weight-bearing exercises to lower her blood sugar and improve bone density.

Sally led a career in counseling and computer programming, describing her lifestyle as “pretty sedentary” before joining HealthFit Gym. She'd never liked repetitive workouts, or exercise at all, she said, but found weightlifting to be fun.

“The weight bearing was slow and deliberate,” she said.

Over the months Sally gained more and more strength, and the idea of competing at the Senior Olympics came to her. She'd watched her daughter enter the competition, she said, and thought she could do it too.

Both Bob and her trainer, Alyssa Mallette, were immediately on board.

“I was thrilled. I was super excited,” Mallette said, explaining that Robertson was the first person she'd trained for the event.

Ahead of the Senior Olympics, Robertson could deadlift 115 pounds. It wasn't until the competition arrived that she added another 10 pounds, winning her age group.

“For a five-foot great-grandma, that's pretty good,” Bob said.

Robertson plans to return to the Senior Olympics and compete again in weightlifting. This time, she is adding new exercises into her training regimen, such as the squat and bench press.

Robertson is also training with the added challenge of an injury. In late 2017, she fell and broke her kneecap. Mallette said the injury hasn't stopped her.

“She's literally coming back from a broken kneecap and already doing things like squatting and deadlifting. She's a tough lady,” Mallette said.

Looking back, Robertson explained she enjoyed the competition and improving her fitness, but the experience, she said, was rewarding in more ways than one.

“My self-image is real different,” she said. “I'm not thinking of myself as an old person without control over what the future is going to be.”


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