GTL x LOA Presents: The Olympian Spotlight series.

Phobay Lolik: Olympian of the month OLYMPIAN SPOTLIGHT PHOBAY LOLIK 2012 London Olympics Words by Manseen Logan
April 5, 2022

Years before Liberia’s Tokyo2020 designer gowns made Opening Ceremony headlines, Phobay Lolik was there. She was there, in 2012, shopping for a department store outfit to wear, hours before she carried the Liberian flag into the Olympic Stadium as the first female Olympic flag bearer. Back then, hardly anyone even knew that Liberia had an Olympic Team. Lolik is part of the long legacy of elite Liberian athletes who have helped get the Olympic Team to where it currently stands.

Ten years ago, I interviewed Lolik for Go Team Liberia (formerly LIB Olympic Blog). At the time, she answered to her maiden name Phobay Kutu-Akoi and she was a 24-year-old, first-time Olympian competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Since then, we’ve spoken many times and she’s expressed  her unfiltered experience as an athlete. Each time we speak, she offers more insight into her journey as a Liberian Olympian. From her own admission, it has been a course filled with immense passion and grind.

Lolik invested most of her young adult life to track and field. In fact, World Athletics has recorded her races as far back as 2004. When the time came to represent her country at international meets, she did it without hesitation. First, in the 100 meters dash at the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. Then, in 2011, at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Korea and the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.

An Olympic Dream

She ran countless races for Liberia, during those years. Finally, in 2012, Lolik set an 11.37 seconds personal best time that qualified her to represent her country on the ultimate sports stage—The Olympics.

Lolik stood against the fastest women in the world and came sixth in her heat. With hopes to represent Liberia at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Lolik continued competing. Unfortunately, her competitive career came to a heartbreaking end, when disorganization from within the organization caused her to miss her last opportunity to qualify for a spot in Rio.

However, the disappointment did not stop Lolik from pursuing her passion for both Liberia and sports. Later that year, she collected and delivered athletic shoes to athletes in Liberia. Even now, Lolik displays her commitment to Liberian athletes as the president of the newly formed Liberia Olympian Association.

Lolik’s 4×400 team, currently holds Liberia’s national record, but her journey is even greater than her accolades. It has been a pleasure watching her evolve as an athlete and a leader. Go Team Liberia is honored to speak with her, once again, as we launch our Olympian Spotlight series in collaboration with the Liberia Olympian Association.

Listen and read Lolik’s Q&A below.

Illustration of Lolik

 

I’m Phobay Lolik and I am a Liberian Olympian that competed at the 2012 London Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I am currently living in Dallas, Texas, but I was born and raised in Liberia until the age of 12. My family and I moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where I attended middle and high school.

What do you love about Liberia? 

What I love about Liberia are the people, but most importantly, the food.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running my freshman year of high school. I joined the Liberia Olympic team by running the Olympic qualifying standard for the 100 meters dash in April of 2012. I chose to represent Liberia because I am a Liberian. I love Liberia, and I just couldn’t even imagine not running for Liberia.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite track and field event is the 60 meters dash. What I miss the most about competing is traveling, being in amazing training groups and pushing myself physically.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

It’s hard to pick a favorite Olympic memory because I ran with some of the fastest women in the world. I carried the Liberian flag in the Opening Ceremony. I watched David Rudisha break the 800 meter world record. And I stayed in the Olympic Village with super humans for three weeks.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

My number one advice to an athlete who wants to be an Olympian is to develop a mental practice. If you don’t have one, meditation and visualization worked for me, it still works for me. It really helps you deal with the parts of your life that are out of your control and keeps you focused on your goals.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

An interesting fact about me that many people may not know is that I’m pretty good at videography, photography and video editing. Life after sports has been exciting for me. I am a wife, I’m a mom, and I’ve been checking things off my bucket list. I learned how to swim. I learned how to bake a cake and I’m looking forward to what’s next.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

I do miss the routine and structure of being an athlete sometimes, but I am enjoying this phase of my life. I am currently the president of the Liberia Olympians Association, and I am just so passionate about what we do. And we just look forward to promoting the Olympic movement while we celebrate our Liberian Olympians.

Readers can stay in touch with Lolik by following her on Instagram and Facebook at @phobaylolik. Supporters can also  keep up with her on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.

Years before Liberia’s Tokyo2020 designer gowns made Opening Ceremony headlines, Phobay Lolik was there. She was there, in 2012, shopping for a department store outfit to wear, hours before she carried the Liberian flag into the Olympic Stadium as the first female Olympic flag bearer. Back then, hardly anyone even knew that Liberia had an Olympic Team. Lolik is part of the long legacy of elite Liberian athletes who have helped get the Olympic Team to where it currently stands.

Ten years ago, I interviewed Lolik for Go Team Liberia (formerly LIB Olympic Blog). At the time, she answered to her maiden name Phobay Kutu-Akoi and she was a 24-year-old, first-time Olympian competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Since then, we’ve spoken many times and she’s expressed  her unfiltered experience as an athlete. Each time we speak, she offers more insight into her journey as a Liberian Olympian. From her own admission, it has been a course filled with immense passion and grind.

Lolik invested most of her young adult life to track and field. In fact, World Athletics has recorded her races as far back as 2004. When the time came to represent her country at international meets, she did it without hesitation. First, in the 100 meters dash at the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. Then, in 2011, at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Korea and the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.

An Olympic Dream

She ran countless races for Liberia, during those years. Finally, in 2012, Lolik set an 11.37 seconds personal best time that qualified her to represent her country on the ultimate sports stage—The Olympics.

Lolik stood against the fastest women in the world and came sixth in her heat. With hopes to represent Liberia at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Lolik continued competing. Unfortunately, her competitive career came to a heartbreaking end, when disorganization from within the organization caused her to miss her last opportunity to qualify for a spot in Rio.

However, the disappointment did not stop Lolik from pursuing her passion for both Liberia and sports. Later that year, she collected and delivered athletic shoes to athletes in Liberia. Even now, Lolik displays her commitment to Liberian athletes as the president of the newly formed Liberia Olympian Association. She is a record-setting member of the Liberia track and field team as a member of the national record-holding 4×400 women’s team.

Lolik’s 4×400 team, currently holds Liberia’s national record, but her journey is even greater than her accolades. It has been a pleasure watching her evolve as an athlete and a leader. Go Team Liberia is honored to speak with her, once again, as we launch our Olympian Spotlight series in collaboration with the Liberia Olympian Association.

Listen and read Lolik’s Q&A below.

Illustration of Lolik

 

I’m Phobay Lolik and I am a Liberian Olympian that competed at the 2012 London Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I am currently living in Dallas, Texas, but I was born and raised in Liberia until the age of 12. My family and I moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where I attended middle and high school.

What do you love about Liberia? 

What I love about Liberia are the people, but most importantly, the food.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running my freshman year of high school. I joined the Liberia Olympic team by running the Olympic qualifying standard for the 100 meters dash in April of 2012. I chose to represent Liberia because I am a Liberian. I love Liberia, and I just couldn’t even imagine not running for Liberia.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite track and field event is the 60 meters dash. What I miss the most about competing is traveling, being in amazing training groups and pushing myself physically.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

It’s hard to pick a favorite Olympic memory because I ran with some of the fastest women in the world. I carried the Liberian flag in the Opening Ceremony. I watched David Rudisha break the 800 meter world record. And I stayed in the Olympic Village with super humans for three weeks.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

My number one advice to an athlete who wants to be an Olympian is to develop a mental practice. If you don’t have one, meditation and visualization worked for me, it still works for me. It really helps you deal with the parts of your life that are out of your control and keeps you focused on your goals.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

An interesting fact about me that many people may not know is that I’m pretty good at videography, photography and video editing. Life after sports has been exciting for me. I am a wife, I’m a mom, and I’ve been checking things off my bucket list. I learned how to swim. I learned how to bake a cake and I’m looking forward to what’s next.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

I do miss the routine and structure of being an athlete sometimes, but I am enjoying this phase of my life. I am currently the president of the Liberia Olympians Association, and I am just so passionate about what we do. And we just look forward to promoting the Olympic movement while we celebrate our Liberian Olympians.

Readers can stay in touch with Lolik by following her on Instagram and Facebook at @phobaylolik. Supporters can also  keep up with her on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.