'Strongest girl in the world', seven, who can deadlift 80kg

‘Strongest girl in the world’, seven, who can lift weights of 80kg says she ‘just clears her mind and does it’ – as her parents insist the hobby ‘is safe’

  • Schoolgirl Rory van Ulft, seven, from Ottowa, can deadlift 80kg and squat 61kg 
  • Started training after fifth birthday when she was scouted at a gymnastics class
  • Spends nine hours per week gymnastics training and four hours on weightlifting
  • Schoolgirl is the youngest US youth national champion for weight class in history
  • Wears fake tattoos on arms during competitions because she ‘thinks it’s cool’

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 foot 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.’

‘Strongest girl in the world’ Rory van Ulft, seven, from Ottowa, can deadlift 80kg and boasts that working out allows her to ‘get better at everything she tries’

The youngster started training at the age of just five when she was scouted during a gymnastics class 

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, who wears fake temporary tattoos during competitions, trains for weightlifting  four hours a week 

The schoolgirl, who can squat 61kg and deadlift 80kg using an Olympic women’s bar, said she just ‘loves getting stronger’ 

The schoolgirl can snatch 32kg and clean and jerk 42kg as well as squatting 61kg, and deadlifting 80kg using an Olympic women’s bar. 

Is it safe for children to weightlift?  

Health experts have previously said it is dangerous for children to lift weights before they have reached adolescence.

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of charity Weight Concern, said: ‘Resistance training is not ideal for anybody under the age of 16.

‘At this age I believe weight training, however light the weights, is wholly unnecessary and potentially harmful.’

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. 

The youngster said she ‘just clears her mind and does it’ when lifting heavy weights during competitions 

Her parents Cavan and Lindsay believe Rory could be the ‘strongest girl in the world’ because of her weightlifting ability (pictured with her trainer Spencer)

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.’

Her father Cavan insisted there is ‘currently no one better’ than his little girl competing in the national competitions 

Cavan  explained Rory’s staggering Sinclair competition total of 213.738 makes her the best pound-for-pound 11-and-under lifter in the States

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.’  

Rory has won a host of medals competing but said she was not thinking of training for the Olympics because ‘that kind of thing doesn’t matter’ 

Meanwhile Rory’s father insisted the little girl was safe while competing, and said she has a family doctor and paediatrician looking after her 

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.’ 

The schoolgirl advised others ‘don’t think about the weight’ when competing but instead ‘focus on form’ 

Meanwhile the seven-year-old said other children ‘don’t pick on her’ in school despite her unusual hobby 

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