By: Cara Heads Slaughter (as told to Athlete Daily)
Cara Heads Slaughter, part of the 2000 Olympic Team in weightlifting (75 kg), snatched 102.5 kg (a PR) and clean and jerked 120 kg on the big stage. But the moments that still stick with her are off of the platform. Slaughter -the founder of CH Fitness and Performance– shares a first-person account of her favorite Olympic memories…
“My most memorable moment was the moment just before we were about to enter the stadium. Before we go to Opening Ceremonies, [the athletes] all get corralled into a holding space and we wait until it’s our turn for the U.S. delegation to enter the stadium.
So you’re kind of in a darker area and you see all the lights and the people as you’re heading into [the stadium], and you hear all the cheers from everyone cheering for their own country.
I remember looking around and seeing all of these incredible elite athletes. Athletes that were—and some still are—the best in their sport, some of them have a really long reign as the best.
Looking around and seeing Serena Williams, back in 2000 and Venus [Williams] as well. Seeing them and seeing some of the athletes from the Olympic Training Center that I had met here and there before I actually moved to the Training Center.
It was that moment when you realize that you’re a part of this really special group of athletes.
It was humbling and I remember trying to take everything in. You want it to last but you know it’s going to be this moment, a few hours maybe, and then it’s over.
[I was] really just trying to take it all in and, even looking at my teammates, it didn’t seem real when we were standing there and then beginning to walk out. You hit the track and it doesn’t seem like it’s real.
It was incredible. To be there with one of my best friends Cheryl Hayworth, we got to share that moment together. And we’re still really good friends. I’ve grown to be good friends with all those women and it’s a really special memory that we’ll all have.
My other favorite moment was looking up in the stands and seeing my family. I was competing and I went out [on stage] for introductions. And I looked up and saw my family.
They’re both really special moments for different reasons, but to be able to walk out and see my family—they had their faces painted, they had t-shirts they made, they had banners. I could hear my sister—who has the biggest, booming voice when she wants to yell and cheer [laughs]. I heard her and then I spotted everyone else.”
(Slaughter trained for three Olympic Trials and set a new American record in the clean and jerk in 2004.)