Feature Athlete: Kaiya Bryant

T

hirteen-year old, Kaiya Bryant, became the fourth female in history to medal at the International Weightlifting Federation’s Youth World Championships when she took home silver and bronze medals in Las Vegas on March 9, 2019.  Kaiya’s performance was especially impressive because she was the youngest lifter in her session, and the Youth World Championships was her first international competition.  

Kaiya, who trains with Coach Kerri Goodrich at Performance Initiatives in Savannah, Georgia, shares some insights into her life:

Q: When did you begin weightlifting?

I started when I was 9 years old.

Q: What brought you into the sport?

Coach Kerri was my brother’s gym coach at school.  She asked my brother if he wanted to join her after school program and lift weights. My brother signed up, and I signed up along with him.

Q: What is your favorite part about training?

I like to hang out with my friends doing something I love.  I also know that people look up to me, which motivates me to work hard and do my best.

Q: You recently won a silver medal in the C&J and a bronze in total at the YWC.  Tell me about that experience.

During the competition, I was very nervous.  It was my first international competition, and I was the youngest person in my session.  I didn’t know how I would do.  I thought I would just have a fun experience.  I did not expect to take home any medals.  

After my openers, I felt more confident.  I realized that I was doing well in the competition and even had a chance to medal.  Afterwards, I felt very proud of myself.  I was able to bring home medals and represent the United States at the same time. 

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of weightlifting?

I like to play basketball. 

Q: What did you do to pick yourself up when you are discouraged in weightlifting?

Sometimes when I am not hitting the weights I want to hit in training, I just sit by myself and give myself a pep talk.  I remind myself that I can always hit the weight another day.  

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received regarding weightlifting?

At Youth Worlds, I received a red light from the center referee for one of my lifts.  I was not feeling great about it.  One of the side referees came up to me after the session, though, and encouraged me.  She told me that I was a great athlete with a big future and that she hoped to see me at the Olympic Games someday.  That was very encouraging to me.

Q: What does Coach Kerri tell you to motivate you?

Coach Kerri tries to build my confidence by having little talks with me.  Sometimes, though, when she knows I can do something but I don’t have the confidence, she will load my bar for me.  She will tell me that I am lifting a lighter weight, but I’m actually lifting a heavier weight.  I lift the weight, and then she tells me how much I lifted.  It builds my confidence.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

I want to continue to work hard.  I would also like to qualify for Junior Worlds in 2020 and someday become an Olympian.

Feature Athlete: Coby Rhodes

At age 15, Coby Rhodes of Deland, Florida, is a three-time national weightlifting champion and recently qualified to represent the United States at the International Weightlifting Federation’s Youth World Championship in March 2019.  Coby (61 kg) is dedicated to learning all elements of weightlifting and is on track to achieve great things within the sport.

When did you get started in this sport? I started Olympic Weightlifting in November of 2014. 

What got you started? I took up CrossFit from my parents, and one day at the gym, Olympic weightlifting classes were offered. Since then I’ve been hooked. 

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting? I enjoy the constant thirst for perfection the sport offers. The mental battle between the lifter and the barbell is like no other. Second to this would be developing a bulging vastus medialis oblique.

What does your current training routine look like? I train four days a week for around two and a half hours each training session. My team’s gym is not conveniently located to my house, so I’m usually either working out at CrossFit Deland or in my garage with my sister while FaceTiming my coach.

 

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful? Everything my training consists of is impactful. 

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements? So far, my proudest weightlifting achievements have been qualifying for a Youth International Team and being a three-time national champion. I’m also proud that I have fully embraced wearing a singlet due to the reason that it was quite difficult for me to even wear one with the undershirt at first. 

What is your diet like? I eat healthy for the most part, but I do not currently keep track of my macros or anything. I do drink a lot of water though. 

Who do you look up to in the sport? Why? I look up to many weightlifters such as Li Dayin, Rebeka Koha, Harrison Maurus, Luis Mosquera, and Lu Xiaojun of course. Honestly, I look up to all international champions because I can only imagine the work they put into their craft, and I am going to be one in the future. 

What friendships has this sport brought your way? This sport has brought more friendships than I would’ve ever imagined on both a local and national level. There’s always a level of respect between each other, and quite honestly weightlifters are just cool. 

What qualities do great coaches possess? For me, a great coach is judged by how much passion they have for the sport and the athlete. If a coach has passion permeating off them, it’s infectious. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? At a young age, my stepfather told me to become a student of the sport. 

What characteristics do you strive for? I strive to be a patient and open-minded person who doesn’t abuse the environment, limits his time using technology, and is constantly educating himself. 

When you have random free time, how do you spend it? I’m usually playing PS4, watching YouTube, listening to a podcast, or riding my bike. 

If you could master anything besides weightlifting, what would it be? Memorization. Or maybe meditation. 

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life? I’ve learned how much I can endure if I’m in the right place mentally. I learned how much I enjoy anatomy as well. 

The last time you were discouraged in this sport, how did you get back up? I always remember when my stepdad told me, “when it doesn’t feel as if you are progressing physically, you are growing mentally.” This gives me the motivation to persevere through anything. 

Where does your strength come from? Immense levels of hard work. 

What are your weightlifting goals? I’m going to continue to make international teams and consistently progress higher in rankings each competition. Ultimately, I will make it to the Olympics and become an Olympic champion. I want my highlights to be on a big screen behind the platforms at national meets in 25 years.  That would be cool as well. You could also throw in a 250 kg back squat give or take a few depending on my bodyweight. 

Feature Athlete: Caden Cahoy

Caden Cahoy is our latest featured athlete!  Caden is a 14-year old weightlifter from Jacksonville, Florida who currently competes in the 49-kg weight class.   Caden won the championship title in the 44-kg weight class (14-15 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018 and was recently invited to represent the United States at the Youth World Championships in March 2019.

When did you get started in this sport?

started CrossFit at age 8 and weightlifting at age 9.

What (or who) got you started?

My dad got me started because I saw him working out, and I wanted to try it.  So, I started doing CrossFit with him.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I enjoy how it makes me feel strong and healthy, but I also love competing and having fun.

 

What does your current training routine look like?

Mondays I work out at 6:00-7:30 AM, Wednesdays at 6:00-7:30 AM, Fridays at 5:00-7:30 PM, and Saturdays at 7:00-9:00 AM.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

Squats have been impactful in my training.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest achievements are winning first at nationals 3 times and going 5 times.

What is your diet like?

I eat pretty well but once in a while I eat like a kid.

Who do you look up to in the sport? Why?

I look up to Tian Tao because he has very good technique and is very strong. He also puts in very hard work.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

I have made a lot of friends from national events and hope to keep making more.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Great coaches possess patience, teaching their kids to focus on technique first, and know how to put together good programming.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received was to trust the programming and give all your effort because it does not happen over night.

What characteristics do you strive for?

I strive to be a good role model and want kids to look up to me.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

like spending time with friends playing sports like football and basketball, and I like playing PS4.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

I would master football because it is my second favorite sport to play.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

I have learned to calm down and be patient.

The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

I just focused on improving what I could and taking care of my body until it was all healed up.

Where does your strength come from?

My strength comes from me wanting to be the best in the world and competing against people like Hutch Friend and Hampton Morris.

What are your weightlifting goals?

My goals are to make the USA weightlifting team and win the youth Olympics or the Olympics.

 

Feature Athlete: Seth Tom

Seth Tom is our latest featured athlete!  Seth is a 16-year old weightlifter from San Francisco, California who currently competes in the 55 and 61 kg weight classes.   Seth won the championship title in the 56-kg weight class (16-17 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018.

When did you get started in this sport?

I started lifting 8 years ago (2010) when I was 8 years old.

What (or who) got you started?

My sister attended Abraham Lincoln High School where my coach was a teacher. My coach, Kevin Doherty, ran a strength and conditioning camp with Olympic weightlifting. Kevin and other coaches brought me and my siblings into the weightroom and taught us.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

One thing I enjoy about this sport is the community. I enjoy being around people of all ages and becoming real close friends. I also enjoy the feeling. It’s one of the best feelings to finish your last lift in a competition, whether it’s a miss or make.

What does your current training routine look like?

I train at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California. I train about 2 hours a day 5 times a week with many people of all ages. From kids in elementary school to people as young as 70 years old.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

One thing is technique work. My dad told me, “They may be bigger than you but you have better technique. People with good technique will always win.”

Another thing is lots of strength work. For example squats or accessories.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest achievements were being able to compete at the 2017 Youth World Championships on my birthday, winning my first National Championship and breaking a few American Records.

What is your diet like?

Eat as much as I can but not too much junk food.

Who do you look up to in the sport? Why?

I look up to my friends both on my team and others that are not. Seeing them progress throughout the sport always motivates me to do better.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

It has brought friendships of all kinds. It’s brought me friendships with younger people, older people, the same age as me and people all over the country.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Coaches can have many great qualities but one I like is being friendly. I like my coaches because they are my friends and know me well.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t think.

What characteristics do you strive for?

I strive to be confident and humble.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

I enjoy playing basketball, eating, playing video games or sleeping.  

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

Karate

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

Weightlifting has taught me how to be passionate and to work as hard as I can.

The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

I learned from my mistakes and kept moving forward.

Where does your strength come from?

My strengths come from my teammates because they keep me motivated.

What are your weightlifting goals?

I want to be the best I can be and especially be happy.

 

Feature Athlete: Destiny Snider

Destiny Snider is our latest featured athlete!  Destiny is a 14-year old weightlifter from St. Louis, Missouri who currently competes in the 44 kg weight class.   Destiny won the championship title in the 44-kg weight class (14-15 age group) at USA Weightlifting’s 2018 Youth Nationals in Grand Rapids, Michigan in June 2018.

When did you get started in this sport? Who got you started?

I got started in weightlifting at Lift for Life Gym.  Coach Jimmy saw me playing basketball one day and asked me if I wanted to start weightlifting.  I worked out with him a couple times, and I fell in love with it!

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

Weightlifting is great because you can test how strong you are everyday.  I also have met so many great people through weightlifting.  Most of my best friends are weightlifters.  My sister (NeNe) is on the team as well.  I know people from all over the country because of weightlifting.  I have meet many of the clients at the Lab Gym, where we train.  There are tons of people there that congratulate me on my accomplishments while I’m walking though the gym.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?

I train at the Lab Gym 2 hours a day, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

We have always pushed squats really hard, but recently, we added dead lifts.  That has really helped.  Also, before the Junior Nationals, I was only training one hour on Tuesday and Thursday.  Since I qualified as an alternate to the Youth Pan Ams, Jimmy told me it was time to get more training in per week.  So we added two hours during the week.

What are your proudest weightlifting achievements?

My proudest moment in weightlifting is setting an American Record in the Snatch at Youth Nationals last year.

What is your diet like?

My diet is normal.  I drink a lot more water now.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

Jerome Smith is a good role model for me.  He is good to talk to, and he is there for me when I need anything or feel down or if I’m having a bad day of training.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

The best quality from a coach is motivation.  When its time to get real, they help me get real!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received is, “Don’t think too hard.”  Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to be successful and I make simple mistakes.

What characteristics do you strive for–on and off the platform?

When I’m on the platform, I am ready to kick some butt and pass people up to make it to my dream.  Off the platform, I try not to take things too serious, especially if they are not serious things.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

When I have free time, I like to spend it with my friends, both gaming and at gatherings. I find it very important to maintain a good social life.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

I love playing basketball at Lift for Life Gym.  If I could master anything else besides weightlifting, it would be basketball.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

Weightlifting has taught me that things do not always go right in life, but you have to get up and start over.  You don’t always have a team that can help you or someone looking out for you.  Sometimes you got to do it yourself!

What are your weightlifting goals?

My goal is to continue to make International Teams.  I want to stay in the sport and hopefully make the Olympics one day in both Weightlifting and Basketball.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Carlos Millen – January 2018 Featured Athlete

Carlos Millen Jr., our latest featured athlete.  Carlos is a 17 year old weightlifter from Hardeeville, South Carolina and is currently competing in the 62kg weight class.  Carlos trains at Performance Initiative in Savannah, Georgia with Coach Kerri Goodrich.

When did you get started in this sport?

I started lifting weights about 2 ½  years ago (2015).

What (or who) got you started?

Two friends introduced me to weightlifting and that’s how I started weightlifting.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I enjoy getting stronger, meeting other athletes and competing.

You had an opportunity to represent the U.S. recently at the Youth Pan Ams in Columbia.  What was your favorite part about this experience?

My favorite part of the experience was in Columbia competing against other countries and touring the site.

What advice would you give to other young lifters who want to make an international team?

My advice to those who want make the international team is to give it your all in what ever you do.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week)?

My current training routine is two hours per day, five days a week.

What is your favorite training exercise?

My favorite training exercise is the clean & jerk.

What is your least favorite training exercise?

My least favorite training exercise is the snatch.

What is your diet like?

I don’t have a specific diet, except I drink 100 oz. of water a day.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

I admire Derrick Johnson because I can relate to his struggle in his personal life and how far he has come.

What friendships has the sport brought your way?

Weightlifting brought me friendship, like the one I have with Oscar Chaplin.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

One of the great qualities that a great coach possesses is leadership.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever received was to “get it before it’s gone”.

When you have free time, how do you spend it?

I have free time on Sunday’s. I go to church and watch Hulu.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

From weightlifting, I’ve learned to clear my mind.

When was the last time you got discouraged with weightlifting, and how did you recover?

The last time I got discouraged with weightlifting was when I got kicked out the house by my mother a week before competition in Florida, but I recovered by focusing on my goals.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I like to write my own quotes in a book.

What are your goals with weightlifting?

My goals with weightlifting is to win gold at 2018 junior nationals and qualify for junior worlds.

 

Hampton Morris – November 2017 Featured Athlete

Hampton Morris

Meet Hampton Morris — our featured athlete for the month of November.  Hampton is a 13 year old youth weightlifter from Marietta, Georgia and is currently competing in the 50kg weight class.

When did you get started in this sport?

My first meet was on July 9th, 2016.

What (or who) got you started?

My dad.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

Making new lifting friends.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?

I usually lift 3-4 days per week, 2-3 days in competition weeks, and I try to mobilize as often as possible.  I usually train in my basement or at Crossfit Dwala.  My dad is my coach.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?:

I think one of the most impactful parts of my training is how often I mobilize.

What do you carry around with you in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?

I usually have only lifting-related items in my gym bag, but if I know that I will have a lot of time that I won’t be lifting, I may bring a book or some homework.

What is your diet like?

I just eat normal food.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

I look up to CJ Cummings and Harrison Maurus because of how successful they have been and how early their success began, and it inspires me to believe that I can do just as well as them.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

Some friends that I have that I probably wouldn’t have if I weren’t a weightlifter are Logan Davies and Destiny Karch.

Are you coachable?

Yes

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Understanding how their athlete works, and how to help them work around setbacks.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?  Did you take it?

Ignore the things outside of your control, and focus on the things that are in your control.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)?

I always try to stay calm, patient, and I always try to have fun.

If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?

I would keep my Kindle with all of my favorite books, including A Prayer for Owen Meany, my vintage Adidas lifters, and my Coffee’s Gym T-shirt.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

If I don’t feel like watching whatever’s on TV, I will probably read a book while listening to music, or play with my sister.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

I would master soccer.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

I have learned how to stay calm during difficult situations, and that it’s always important to be patient.

The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

I just stopped thinking about it and focused on what I could do to get past it.

What is the question no one has ever asked you that you’ve always wanted to answer?

I don’t know of any.

What are you most grateful for?

My awesome family and my adorable dog, Dexter.

Where does your strength come from?

I challenge myself and get challenged by others to do my best, every day.

Antwan Kilbert – October 2017 Featured Athlete

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to our featured athlete for the month of October: Antwan Kilbert.  Antwan is an amazing athlete and inspiration to young weightlifters in the US and abroad.  His character, as well as his strength, is admirable (and something worth paying attention to!).

When did you get started in this sport?

I started when was only 11 years old.

What (or who) got you started?

I saw my brother doing it and I tried it.What do you enjoy most about weightlifting? I like lifting the big weights.  Also, I like when you have to yell to get out of a squat, and everyone else screams with you.

What does your current training routine look like ?

I train from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. four days a week, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

I stretch a lot, and I make sure I drink a lot of water when working out.  Plus, I’ve recently been working on having a better state of mind when I’m training.

What is your diet like?

When I don’t have a meet coming up, I like eating Pizza rolls, honey buns and pop tarts.  But when a meet is coming up, I try to stick to meats and vegetables and fruit.  I cut out almost everything to drink but water.

Who do you look up to in the sport?

My coach, Jimmy Duke, and the Barnes brothers.

Why?

My Coach has always been there for me, and Darren and Darrel Barnes have great examples and have inspired me

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

I met my best friend and training partner, Jerome Smith, and Emma Nye (a friend from Kansas City).  There are a lot of people I like to catch up with at meets–athletes I have traveled with to the OTC and International meets.

Are you coachable?

Yes, for the most part I am.  I get a little mad sometimes.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Patience, good advice, and having years of experience in the sport.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Over the last year, I have really been struggling with my jerks.  One Thursday before a Saturday meet, my coach had me work with another coach in the room.  He told me to keep my feet in “two lines”.  My coach had been telling me I was lining up my feet . . . same thing, just different words, but I had a 7kg Clean & Jerk PR because of it.  Also, I have recently been trying to take more time setting up, and that has really been helping.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)?

Discipline, respect, and consistency.

If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?

My shoes, my house and my bed.

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

I play basketball.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

Kick boxing.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

Discipline.

The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

The last time I was really discouraged, I was at a meet.  I really messed up on my snatches.  I was upset and didn’t even want to clean and jerk at all.  My coach talked me out of it and got me thinking positive again.  I came back and did well in the clean jerk, and even made a 7kg Clean and Jerk PR!

What is the question no one has ever asked you that you’ve always wanted to answer?

How do you do it every day?  Could another person go a day in your shoes?

What are you most grateful for?

My mom and Jerome and Jimmy for being by my side the whole time.

Where does your strength come from?

Squats, a lot of squats!

What is your goal in weightlifting?

To make to the Olympics one day, but I want to go to the Youth Olympics First!

Elle Hatamiya – September 2017 Featured Athlete

Please let us introduce you to our featured athlete for the month of September: Elle Hatamiya.  Besides being an Instagram sensation, Elle is an amazing athlete (in weightlifting as well as dojo and gymnastics).  Elle is currently 12 years old and competes in the 35kg class.

Where is home?

 Albany, California

When did you get started in this sport
I started lifting when I was 10. 
What (or who) got you started?
My mom does CrossFit so then I started doing CrossFit, but I liked the Olympic-style lifts more so I started just training and competing in weightlifting.
What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I like the feeling of doing the lifts.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?
I train at my barbell club, Endgame Athletics, twice per week for an hour each time. I have private sessions with my brother, Jude, who trains CrossFit with our coach, Arnold Chua.  I also train with my gymnastics team, Golden Bear Gymnastics Academy, 22 hours per week over 4 days.  And, I  train at my martial arts dojo twice per week for an hour each time. Our style is called Cuong Nhu.
Even though I train 26 hours per week, I still go to regular public school, so everything happens after school and on Saturday.  I have Sundays off, unless I have a competition, because all of my training locations are closed on Sundays.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?
I do a lot of power snatches and power cleans to get stronger and faster. 
What do you carry around with you in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?
Nothing
What is your diet like?
I mostly eat food that my mom cooks:  organic as much as possible, grassfed meat, lots of fruit.  I prefer not to eat processed foods.  For breakfast, I typically have an egg, fruit, and milk. I bring lunch to school; mostly leftovers.  After school, on my way to training, I have a good snack that usually includes protein, fruit, and maybe rice.  After training, I eat a home cooked dinner.  If it’s not home cooked, it could be a burrito or sushi–something that’s relatively easy to start eating in the car.
Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why
I look up to Sarah Robles because she medaled in the Olympics. I also look up to C.J. Cummings and Harrison Maurus because they are kids but they are really strong. 
What friendships has this sport brought your way?
I get to meet lots of people at camps and competitions. I also get lots of supporters around the world though my Instagram. 
Are you coachable?
Yes
What qualities do great coaches possess
They are supportive, they believe in you, they push you, and they listen to you. 
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Did you take it?

Do what you love. Yes, I took it.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)
Caring, calm, modest, confident. 
If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?
Notebook, pencil, and clothes.
When you have random free time, how do you spend it?
I make slime or origami or I play with my brother, Jude, who is 2 years younger than me. 
If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

 I am also a gymnast, so it would be gymnastics.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?
I have mental toughness and I can perfect my technique.
The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?
At Youth Nationals I missed my first lift, but I didn’t let that discourage me or get to me; I just moved on from it and I made the rest of my lifts. 
What is the question no one has ever asked you that you’ve always wanted to answer?

 I don’t know.

What are you most grateful for?

I am grateful I have a family that supports me, I live in a good place, and I get to do what I love. 

Where does your strength come from?

 I just keep working hard and pushing myself.

Kuinini Manumua – August 2017 Featured Athlete

Please let us introduce you to our featured athlete for August: Kuinini Manumua.  We are so excited to feature Kuinini who, btw, secured a bronze medal at the Youth World Weightlifting Championship earlier this year!

Where is home?

This question is very vague in a way but I live in San Francisco,California where my home is at. But if you are indicating where is home in how I feel than to me I feel like home is wherever I feel safe and loved. Very cliche in a way but it is how I feel.

When did you get started in this sport?

I started lifting two and a half years ago. Nearing the end of my Freshmen year in high school.

What (or who) got you started?

My current coach, Kevin Doherty introduced me to weightlifting since he was a teacher at the school I am attending for a program named Avid. He is also the weightlifting, track and field and football coach.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

What I enjoy the most about this sport is that I meet the most kindest and sweetest people through this sport and also finding the joy and pleasure in progressing as an athlete and also as an individual.

What does your current training routine look like (hours per day, days per week, where you train, who you train with)?

Since I am on Summer Break right now, I train two hours a day from 1pm to 3pm on Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays I lift when I am free from 12pm to 2pm because usually I like to go to the movies,  bowling or swimming with friends. I lift for Hassle Free BBC and it is located at the high school I attend, Abraham Lincoln High School. It is a  great environment for me for I get to lift with my friends and also the youth lifters there that are very passionate and dedicated to lifting. They always bring an uplifting feeling to me when I train with these people for they make me want to be successful.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that has been impactful?

Currently I think the most impactful thing that I do in my training is trying to notice the little mistakes that I do when lifting and fixing it because it really does make a huge impact.

What do you carry around with you in your gym bag that has nothing to do with weightlifting?

Earphones, my phone, wallet and junk food for example like candy especially the blue airheads or hot chips.

What is your diet like?

Honestly speaking, I eat anything that I want. In the mornings, I eat French Toast with bacon and scrambled eggs most of time. On my way to training, I would eat  a banana or strawberries. After training, my friend Savannah and I would pick a place to get food from. Everyday is a different place where we eat all types of food of our choice. From sandwhiches of our choice to Chinese food to anything really that is very delicious. For dinner, I eat whatever my parents cooks up for dinner.

Who do you look up to in the sport?  Why?

Since I am kind of new to knowing the big time lifters in this sport, I don’t look up to anyone yet but I do however have to say that Olga Zubova’s jerks are to die for.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

This sport introduced me to the people and friends that I know now which I am really close to. It is never a daunting day with the friends I have in weightlifting for they are very supportive, very funny and very energetic.

Are you coachable?

This a very funny question to ask but gladly I am very coachable. That would be a nightmare for my coach if I wasn’t.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Great coaches are leaders that guides and empowers their athletes, so of course they should have the quality of leadership and also knowledge for they must know the sport they are teaching. Other qualities great coaches possess are effective communication skills, consistency and knowing the athlete for they have to be aware of their individual difference from other athletes because some coaching tactics work on some while on others it doesn’t.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?  Did you take it?

“The only person that should have more faith and belief in the things you do is not your coach or your parents but yourself.” These were the words spoken to me by Kevin Doherty and it has really stuck with me and I did take that advice. No one else should have more faith in me then myself for if I lack faith in myself then why am I lifting? Others shouldn’t have  to believe and hope of things that I know I can do  and end up empty handed because I lacked confidence. It should be myself that wants it more than anyone.

What characteristics do you strive for (on and off the platform)?

Being humble, optimistic and confident.

If you gave everything that you owned away except three things, what would you keep?

My wallet, phone and my mom’s necklace

When you have random free time, how do you spend it?

I watch Netflix, read a book, swim or sleep.

If you could master anything (besides weightlifting), what would it be?

I would want to master all the languages that has ever existed and will exist in the universe.

What have you learned from weightlifting that helps you in other parts of your life?

I learned that it takes a lot of patience and time lifting and it has really helped me out be more patient towards my siblings and be a better sister.

The last time you were knocked down (or discouraged) in this sport, how did you get back up?

Eating a lot of ice cream and keeping my head held high no matter what happened really helped me during my discouraged times.

What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for my mom and dad because I love them so much for they are everything in my life.

Where does your strength come from?

I think my strength comes from the people that are very supportive and encouraging towards me because it makes me work hard and be strong in the things that I do so I won’t disappoint.

What are your weightlifting goals?

Being the best weightlifter I can be.

Enjoying the ride.

Photos by Gene Crain, Lifting Life.