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?
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?
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.

Kyle Martin, Jr. – July 2017 Featured Athlete

Please let us introduce you to our July 2017 featured athlete: Kyle Martin, Jr.  Kyle is ten years old youth weightlifter competing in the 44 kg weight class and is from Oley, PA.

When did you get started in this sport?

At age 8

What (or who) got you started?

I would go to the gym with my dad and climb the rope until I watched Dane Miller’s niece compete online at youth nationals in 2015. The next day I started training Olympic lifting to get ready for the 2016 youth nationals.

What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

I like the competitions and hanging out with my teammates at Garage Strength.

What does your current training routine look like?

I train 1-2 hours per day when I am not playing baseball or wrestling. I train at Garage Strength under the supervision of my coaches Dane Miller, Jacob Horst, and DJ Shuttleworth.

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

I always listen to my coaches and do lot of squats to help improve my clean and jerk.

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

Nothing. Dane Miller will not let me bring iPads or toys into the gym.

What is your diet like?

Cereal in the morning, protein and pasta for lunch, and chicken or PB&J for dinner. Dane does not like it when I eat a lot of sugar.

Who do you look up to in the sport?

Jenny Arthur


I have meet Jenny a couple times during training. She has always been inspiring and helpful when we have meet. I like watching her and other weightlifters compete online.

What friendships has this sport brought your way?

At meets I see a lot of familiar faces and we get to support each other. I also train with Connor Pennington, 12u lifter, we help push each other to new PRs.

Are you coachable?

Yes. I learned how to take direction from my coaches at a young age when I was in Karate.

What are your long term weightlifting goals?

I want to make a world team and represent the United States! I also want to continue to train  to improve my performance in other sports like baseball and wrestling.

What qualities do great coaches possess?

Patience. My coaches are patient and teach me how to lift with good technique even when I am not having my best day on the platform.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Learn how to lose.

Did you take it?

Yes. I’ve learned winning is fun but not the most important thing about training and competing. My main focus is on learning good form and technique first before winning. Learning how to lose is just as important as winning.

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

I always try to do my best and focus on my form and technique.

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

Most of my time is spent at school, training at Garage Strength, or playing baseball or wrestling. My free time is spent catching up on homework and playing Minecraft.

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

To be a great baseball player.

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

Weightlifting helps me become a better athlete and to do better in other sports. My strength training has help me with wrestling.

What are you most grateful for?

My family for supporting me with weightlifting and taking me to my meets.

Where does your strength come from?

From the awesome programming of my coach Dane Miller and not my Dad 😊

The Gift of Coaching: An Interview with Dennis Espinosa

Coach Dennis Espinosa, of Salina, Kansas is a well-known name in U.S. weightlifting.  Espinosa has been a weightlifting coach for over 20 years, is an International Weightlifting Federation Category I Referee and has coached numerous athletes to the national and international levels.  In this interview, Espinosa talks about the benefits of youth weightlifting, the challenges of coaching and the transformation of the sport over the past 20 years.

Q: When did you first become involved in weightlifting?

A: My mother was a fan of weightlifting in the Olympic Games.  I remember watching the 1976 Games with her on TV and sharing her excitement for the sport.  There were no Olympic weightlifting opportunities available to me at the time, but I was very interested in the sport.  In my late teens, I got involved in powerlifting and bodybuilding.  I continued these sports when I opened my own gym in 1988.  In 1997, I turned my attention to Olympic weightlifting and became a sanctioned club with USA weightlifting.

Q: Tell me about your weightlifting program.

A: I currently coach 16 youth athletes in two separate programs.  My competitive program is called Reps and Sets Team Salina.  Right now, I train eight competitive weightlifters in this program.  I also run a strength and conditioning program through the Parks & Rec department.  The athletes in this program receive general strength training.  I use the strength and conditioning program as a feeder program for my competitive team.  It helps me identify athletes with the interest and talent to succeed in competitive weightlifting.  Also, involvement with the Parks and Rec department gives me a free place to train my competitive team!

Q: What does your typical training session look like?

A: I begin with Coaching Corner, where I gather all of my athletes together and give them an overview of what we will be doing that day.  Then, we perform a General Warm Up and a Specific Warm Up, which includes core and stability exercises as well as skill transfer drills. Finally, we proceed into the Olympic lifts.

Q: What benefits does weightlifting offer to youth?

A: Weightlifting requires a tremendous amount of discipline.  Kids who stick with the sport learn to organize themselves, become self-reliant, and control their minds and bodies.

Q: Why do you like working with youth athletes?

A: Training a new weightlifter is like unwrapping a gift.  You don’t know what talent a child holds until you begin working with him.  I enjoy training all types of weightlifters—high energy ones, quiet ones—it is always an adventure figuring out how to motivate and get the best out of each lifter.

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a coach?

A: When lifters leave.  A good coach invests himself in each of his athletes.  He learns their personalities, what motivates them, and how to develop them into the best versions of themselves.  When athletes leave—for whatever reason—it is heartbreaking.

Q: You’ve spent 20 years coaching Olympic weightlifting.  In this time, the sport has completely transformed.  To what do you attribute this?

A: Olympians always increase awareness and interest for a sport.  So, having weightlifters from the U.S. in the Olympic Games has brought more attention to the sport.  CrossFit has also had a huge influence by introducing athletes to the Olympic lifts.  In fact, CrossFit is probably the best thing that has happened to the sport of weightlifting!

Q: What is different about the sport of weightlifting now than when you started?

A: Young coaches are able to develop their athletes much more successfully now than when I started.  This has put the sport in a better position.  There are now more talented youth weightlifters than ever before in the U.S.


Q: Why is this?

A: USA Weightlifting’s coaching curriculum is better developed in recent days.  Coaches better understand how to motivate athletes, program, and deal with the mental aspects of coaching.  Also, information on weightlifting is more readily available and shared.


Q: What advice would you give to new weightlifting coaches?

A: Become a referee.  As a coach, it is absolutely essential to know the rules of the sport.  The information you gain in the referee courses will benefit your athletes and give you a better understanding of the sport.  Soon after becoming a weightlifting coach, I became a referee.  The information I gained in the referee courses has made me a better coach.

Also, compliment your lifters regularly.  Don’t tear them down; always build them up.

In the Shoes of an Olympian

Youth Weightlifting Abby Flickner Interview

Abby Flickner, of Shawnee Kansas is your typical 13-year old girl. She loves to read, play the trumpet, and train in weightlifting shoes given to her by Olympian Morghan King. Ok, Abby is not so typical. She has been weightlifting since she was six-years old, has her own athletic clothing line, and holds three Youth American Records. Here is a glimpse into her life . . .

Q: How did you get started in weightlifting?

A: My older brother had been weightlifting for a while, and I thought it would help me get stronger for gymnastics. Eventually, I gave up my other sports—gymnastics, softball, and volleyball to focus exclusively on weightlifting.

Q: What do you enjoy most about weightlifting?

A: Weightlifting offers some good life lessons. If you don’t focus on your lift, it won’t be very good. Similarly, if you don’t focus on homework, you won’t get a good grade. And if you don’t focus on the task at hand, you won’t succeed.

Q: What does your training schedule look like?

A: I train two hours per day, six days a week with my coach, Boris Urman, at Bootcamp Fitness.

Q: What one or two things do you do in training that are particularly impactful?

A: Squats and lower back training! It’s easy to get a heavy barbell off the floor, but you have to have strong legs and a strong core to stand up with it.

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

A: Candy

Q: What is your diet like?

A: I try to eat as much as I can to move up a weight class. I eat lots of protein, fruit and veggies. I usually eat two suppers, one before gym and one after. I also like to eat candy!

Q: Who do you look up to in the sport?

A: Morghan King. She accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time, and she has been supportive of my lifting. She gave me the shoes I wear in training!

Q: What qualities does a great coach possess?

A: A great coach isn’t afraid to tell you what you’ve done wrong. Weight-lifting can be a dangerous sport if you don’t do it correctly.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: Don’t worry about what weight is on the bar . . . just lift it.

Q: Did you take this advice?

A: I try, but it’s hard not to think about the weight.

Q: When you are not weightlifting, how do you spend your free time?

A: I like to read, ride my bike and play the trumpet. I would also like to learn how to cook.

Q: When was the last time you were knocked down and how did you get back up?

A: Youth Nationals in 2016. It was the first time I had been beaten in three years. I’m still in the process of recovering, but I’ve made progress.

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

A: Anything you want to achieve requires hard work and a good mindset.

Q: Where does your strength come from?

A: Some of it comes naturally, but mostly it comes from training hard.