Rory van, a pintsized schoolgirl who can lift weights of 80kg has revealed she just ‘clears her mind and does it.’
Little Rory van Ulft, seven, from Ottowa, is just four feet tall and started weightlifting just after her fifth birthday after she was scouted at a gymnastics class.
She was recently crowned USA weightlifting under-11 and under-13s Youth National Champion in the 30kg weight class, making her the youngest US youth national champion in history, with her father Cavan revealing: ‘It would be fair to say Rory is the strongest little girl in the world.’
Meanwhile he insisted the unusual hobby is safe for his daughter, explaining: ‘Her safety is everyone’s top priority. She progresses in her training for both sports carefully and methodically.’
Cavan said: ‘Based on her current Sinclair total, Rory is not only the strongest seven-year-old in the world.
‘She is likely also the strongest seven-year-old girl or boy who has ever lived, for whom there are verifiable competition results.’
But Rory sees herself as a gymnast first and foremost, spending nine hours per week training on that compared with four hours on weightlifting.
After she won her first gymnastics medal – a bronze on balance beam at a local competition – she told her parents: ‘I prefer gymnastics to weightlifting, because in gymnastics I don’t have to lift anything over my head.’
The schoolgirl can snatch 32kg and clean and jerk 42kg as well as squatting 61kg, and deadlifting 80kg using an Olympic women’s bar.
Rory explained: ‘I like getting stronger. Being stronger lets me do more and get better at everything I try.
‘I don’t think about what came before, or what will come after. I don’t think about anything. I just clear my mind and do it.’
Cavan explained: ‘In terms of Rory’s relative strength compared to all the national champions in the lowest girls’ developmental age and weight categories, which vary from country to country. ‘There is currently no one better competing.’
She also wears temporary tattoos for her shows and was flocked by young fans who recognised her because of the fake ink during a trip to DIsneyland last year. Rory said: ‘I wear tattoos because I like them. I think they’re cool.’
The International Weightlifting Federation measures pound-for-pound strength using Sinclair coefficients. The athlete of any body weight with the highest Sinclair total is awarded the title of best lifter.
Cavan and his wife Lindsay explained Rory’s staggering Sinclair competition total of 213.738 makes her the best pound-for-pound 11-and-under lifter in the States.
Cavan and Lindsay said Rory is also the reigning Ontario Weightlifting Association 17-and-under provincial champion in the 40-kg weight class.
But she competes in the US because there isn’t a Canadian youth national championship for Olympic-style lifting.
Rory added: ‘I like when I make a new weight that I’ve never done before. I feel proud of myself.’
Her parents also say she has no current Olympic ambitions because she is so young, with Rory explaining: ‘That sort of thing doesn’t really matter to me.’
Rory goes to school full-time and is in third grade, equivalent to Year four in the UK with Cavan explaining: ‘She is very intelligent and is able to really focus and interpret direction. ‘It is one of the factors that makes her coachable at such a young age.’
She also says that kids don’t bully her, but believes it’s because she is well-liked rather than feared for her strength. ‘Other kids don’t pick on me,’ she said. ‘But not because they think I’m strong.’
Asked how she is kept safe while lifting heavy weights, he added: ‘Rory has knowledgeable coaches in both weightlifting and gymnastics.
‘She has both a family doctor and a sports medicine paediatrician looking after her.’
Offering advice to other girls concerning taking up weightlifting, Rory said: ‘Don’t ever think about the weight. Just think about your form.’
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