That was back in 2016. Mariam Sariev found her best friend. The one who walks in and the whole world walks out. And the little girl from Georgia will never regret that day. The day she became a lifter.
In 2016, Mariam was a volunteer during the IWF European Championships held in Tbilisi. One year later, she was a lifter in a 63 kg weight category at a IWF Junior World Championships held on her soil. That’s when her dream came true.
She truly loved weightlifting. She was closing her eyes and standing on the podium, with voices inside her head telling her to move on, never give up. She knew, that even though miles may lie between them, that dream will never fell apart. That dream of becoming a lifter.
The first lift… It’s like a wave in your private little ocean, like the wind in your sky. Well, for Sariev, it’s like that.
A javelin thrower, 4-time Gold Medal winner at Georgian Championships, she became a lifter in February of 2016. Hours in the gym, hours of hard work. She was bent, but not broken. Missing her friends was getting easier, because even though you are one step further from the last time you saw them, you are one step closer to the next time you will see them.
Sariev: “Weightlifting gives my heart excitement and thrills. When I practice, I feel like I’m out of control. Weightlifting taught me how to handle life seriously and to face problems without any fear.”
One lift. And another. And another. The voice in the headphones telling her “Take a look to the sky, just before you die. It’s the last time you will”. James Hetfield. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”.
Mariam lost her father when she was 10 months old. She lives by the stories she’s told. The inner world of missing. In her dreams, she is always with her dad.
Sariev: ”Dad, thanks for being there, when I needed a shoulder to lean on. I just wanted You to know how happy am I to have you in my dreams and I thank God for that. Father, I love you so much and these feelings won’t ever leave this heart of mine. Every time I think of you, I want to let you know, how much I miss you”.
And when she is in the gym, she feels no fear.
One person convinced her to become a lifter.
Kakhi Kakhiashvili. 3 Time Olympic Champion, President of Georgian Weightlifting Federation.
Sariev: “Kakhiashvili was so kind, friendly. He just told me, go ahead, start, you will always have time to leave and I hope that time won’t come in the near future. That’s a 3 time Olympic champion speakin’ to me. Kakhi is a leader by example, a true champion, but so down to earth”.
She has made some really bad choices and went down the wrong ways in her past, but we learn by our own
mistakes. And there she was, standing in front of all those people, rooting for her at IWF Junior World Championships. Good lift!
Sariev: “When I stepped on the podium in front of all those people, all my dreams came true. And to all those people, who were with me during the hard times, I say, I love you with all my heart”.
All of us have goals. And those goals cannot be paid by diamonds. You have to dig in the dirt to come close to those goals. She just did that.
Sariev: “I was in the gym night in and night out. I was tired, exhausted, but the same time I was thinking “Hey, I must be the luckiest girl in the world”.
She lifted 52 in Snatch. 67 – in Clean and Jerk. 117 in Total. Modest results. But those came only in the third tournament of her young career. Mission accomplished. Good job.
Sariev: “Numbers don’t lie. Being in the basement is no good, but you should start from something”.
We step into the gym and stop thinking of failure, demise. We feel the ground, we stand in the paradise. No rivals at all, we all are dear friends and their presence brings smiles within our hearts.
At IWF Junior World Championships, Sariev finished next to last.
Sariev: “I was last. Ok, next to the last, but I was proud and happy. My coach, my friends, my family – I was feeling their love and that is a special gift, to make others happy, even from a distance. Only 52 kilograms in snatch, but I know I will improve. It’s like, I am still in my dreams. One year ago I was a volunteer, creating comfort for participants of the European Championships and here I stand as a participant of this big event. Amazing”.
Some things never change. And they never will. Like taxes. Like death. Like fulfilling your dreams.
Sariev’s mother was her biggest fan. A choreographer in Erisioni, a Georgian ensemble, which performs national dances and songs of Georgia. Mother was holding those old headphones for her. Even trying to listen to Metallica. Short try it was.
Sariev: “My mother, she was in the gym and even though, I did not see her, a smile appeared on my face, because I knew she was there, thinking of me”.
The hardest lift is the one you never take. You do not achieve your goals by sitting in the room. You do not find those goals at the end of the road. You have to experience, feel those goals along the way.
Rise and fall. And again. And again. Untill you stand still.
Sariev: “My mother taught me not to take for granted each moment of my life and I found a reason to be happy every day. I found happiness. My boyfriend… The one, who makes me the happiest. When you are little and fall in love with someone, he is always the one who is already taken. Not now. I found my passion, my love. He is always in my heart”.
And the gym became her cradle.
Sariev: “That sound in the gym… It’s like listening to Metallica. I feel the pain, but it goes away with the
sound of James Hetfield’s voice. Going to the gym was like going to Metallica’s concert. Always special. I became a lifter and my wish has been fulfilled”.
Well, that’s it. For Mariam Sariev happiness is finding love through giving love, rather than through receiving it. Weightlifting changed her life. The loss, the time when she was on the crossroads, the start of her career. She did not learn from happiness. She did learn from pain. And that was the sweetest thing she ever had.
Weightlifting became her best friend. She will treasure it in her heart and will always remember, that once in her life, she met someone like that. A new friend. Weightlifting.
The more she sweats in practice, the less she bleeds in battle. And for Mariam, the mark of a great leader is to be confident in tough situations. Take Lebron James. The beast in NBA. Or Lasha Talakhadze. IWF World and European Champion. The titans. The way they practice, the way they act. One day they were doing the things, that others did not. But tomorrow they will accomplish what others can’t.
Sariev: ”Talakhadze. He is so humble, very natural. Same for Lebron. They are never afraid of failure, ‘cause it they are, they do not deserve to be successful. I learn from them”.
Mariam is a big Adam Sandler fan. Enjoys watching “Police Academy”.
Sariev: “I love “Wedding Singer”. I love “Funny People”. Adam is a god of comedy. And he is so…real, I guess. I watch a lot of Pixar. “Toy Story”, “Brave”. Yeah, “Brave” is the best!”
Dad is happy. Watching over her.
Keep your dreams alive. Remember, that all things are possible for those who believe.
Mariam paints the flowers. All over the wall. Black roses. The wild ones.
Sariev: “I love flowers. I wish, I could have a big, big garden with many, many roses all over it”.
Weightlifting gives the test first, the lesson afterward. For Sariev, weightlifting is the fire that burns the passion within her soul. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Easy as that. All the time, you have to expect things of yourself, before you can do them. And just keep going.
Because, if you are not going all the way, why go at all?
Sariev: “Me and weightlifting. We are a perfect couple, in a perfect world. Try to copy that”.
From little miss happiness. Mariam Sariev.
Author: Zura Talakvadze