Team Pocket had the opportunity to meet and interview Michelle Griffith Robinson, former Olympian, life coach, and mentor. We speak about her time in the Olympics, the coaching she does, her diabetes ambassadorship, and how she balances it all along with being a mother.
Coaching is simply me following somebody through their journey through open ended questions. I don't take on everybody as not everyone is ready for coaching and not everybody is ready to be challenged with really open questions. I have some fantastic clients who are prepared to see it through to the end but always remembering that it’s their journey, not my journey so when they come to me with their agenda, it’s not my agenda. When I’m mentoring, I share some of my own experiences as a woman, as a mother, as a life coach, as an ambassador, and sometimes we can make references to that as well. It differs and I would say to everybody to try it sometime, not necessarily with me but find somebody that you can be honest and open with, and recognise what it is that you want from your life. It’s your dream, pursue what you want to pursue.
Being at the Olympic games really is the greatest show on earth. I think back to the 1996 Olympic games and walking out into that crowd of 90,000 people cheering and shouting it was simply the best and that was me as a competitor. It was 2012 when I was privileged enough to be at the London 2012 Olympic games. That was very very epic. I should say as one of my kids would use, it was ‘an epic experience’ but it’s still not the same as being a competitor and walking out there with your GB tracksuit on. There is so much pride in wearing your GB tracksuit and your GB vest knowing that you’re representing your nation, so that’s very different. Watching the Tokyo Olympic games, I thought it would be marred because of the lack of audience and crowd but it’s been simply magnificent and the bags under my eyes show that I’ve been glued to the TV.
I started athletics when I was 12 years old and that’s a story I share quite a lot of. Coming to the running track and being quite a shy girl. Actually, I wasn’t shy but acting shy I should say. My mum saying join that running club there, and that was a club called Middlesex ladies in Wembley on an old cinder battered track. My mum still says today that’s the best £1 she has ever invested in me. Moving on from there, when I was 19 I was asked to try out the triple jump and as an already established long jumper I could do all of the bounding and the movements that were required to be a triple jumper. I came down and broke the British junior record in my trainers so that was quite formidable back then. Now watching my daughter who is an aspiring triple jumper, it brings back many memories to how I started my journey. It was just a case of starting an event, realising I was good at it and that’s why I always encourage people try something, give it a go as you never know where it may lead to.
I think after my diagnosis of being pre-diabetic in 2018 I was driven to make a difference and to join Diabetes UK as an ambassador. It was something that I wanted to make a change in. As some of you may know it’s a very common condition in the black community and I think my job is to raise awareness around it. That if I can be diagnosed with pre-diabetes as a fit Olympian, a woman that kept training and being active all the way through since I retired then it can happen to anybody.
It involves me using my voice as a platform to raise this awareness. It’s crucial for me to raise awareness around this subject title. People can get involved by joining half marathons, 10k’s, 5k’s, raising money, constantly trying to raise awareness so that this charity can survive. This charity has been a go-to for a lot of people. When they’ve been diagnosed it's been a support system and has supported many people, so the more you can raise money and awareness at the same time the better it will be. You never know, nobody ever thought I’d be pre-diabetic and I'm constantly having to monitor myself to make sure I don't turn into type 2 diabetic.
The juggle is out there, we call it the juggle, the motherhood juggle. It is very difficult sometimes, sometimes it’s more difficult than others. I’ve got to be honest, some days I do drop the ball and I’m not scared to say that. Some days I throw tantrums and throw my dummy out of the pram, excuse the pun, but it is about doing my best to maintain some good level of good positive mental health so do be active. I’ll go out for a long walk with my husband, or I’ll go out for a run and I'll make sure to schedule it in. So the thing I would say to people is if you want things to happen you do have to diarise it and make it happen. You’ve got to stay accountable to something or someone. So that’s how I juggle it all, sometimes not brilliantly so I’m not going to pretend and confess that I do it all brilliantly because I don’t.
I say to many women, don’t try and be perfect at everything. Women can have it all but just not at the same time. So if you want to pursue a career I’m sure you can do that to the highest level. You can also have kids but you can’t be at the top if your game all at the same time. I guess that’s my advice to women, recognise our strengths, work on our weaknesses and acceptance is key and vulnerability is key. Showing vulnerability as well is essential to living an authentic life.
My favourite way to move is weight training. I absolutely love weight training, I feel strong, I feel empowered, I love having muscles. I definitely want to break down the stereotype of young girls thinking having muscles makes you look like a man. I love feeling strong, when I feel strong I feel like I can do anything.
I always have my phone with me. I’m always conscious to keep an eye on my mother who lives in London so I always have my phone on me so I am contactable. And also a lip gloss - a mac lip gloss. They’re the things I’ll always have on me.