GRC weightlifter will represent US at international competition

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Regarding athletics, Colombia may be best known for its soccer or even producing baseball greats like Edgar Renteria.

However, a GRC student will soon be headed to the South American nation to participate in a different sport altogether.

Riley Williams, an 18-year-old George Rogers Clark High School senior, is set to compete at the International Weightlifting Federation’s Pan-American Junior Championships from May 10-15 in Manizales.

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It will be her first time participating in an international competition.

“I was chosen along with ten boys and nine other girls,” said Williams. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only girl selected that’s from Kentucky.”

Williams, and her two older brothers, got her start in weightlifting at the age of 13 at her father’s encouragement.

“We would work out together and train together,” she said. “Fast forward to now, [and] I’m training [remotely].”

Specifically, Williams is training with Tim Davis of Owensboro. The club name she is associated with is ODC Barbell, short for Owensboro-Daviess County.

Described as Kentucky’s elite youth weightlifting team, ODC Barbell has collected over 50 national medals in youth and open categories while also winning six youth national championships and breaking over 30 state records.

They have also put athletes on the U.S. National Team in three international competitions while collecting six international medals.

As a member of the elite program, Williams is one of only ten girls selected nationwide on a 20-person team.

While national competition has been a regular event for her in the last few years, including the North American Open Series, victory or a high score in international competition can be another stepping stone.

“I could use this performance to hopefully qualify for [the IWF] Junior World Championships,” Williams said.

In the competition, Williams will be participating in Olympic-style weightlifting.

Notably, the snatch and clean and jerk will be an emphasis.

Participants will have three attempts to lift as much weight as possible before being placed alongside other competitors.

With the snatch, the barbell gets lifted from the ground to an overhead position in a single, continuous motion.

The clean and jerk have the athlete moving the barbell from the floor to a shoulder-high racked position, then finishing by raising the barbell to a stationary position overhead.

As Williams prepares to compete, she hopes it will serve as an opportunity to inspire others to pursue weightlifting and more.

“I do appreciate that I can inspire younger people, and I hope I do,” Williams said. “I try not to be bogged down by the stress of competing and things like that.”

Furthermore, while acknowledging that her confidence has grown, Williams also points out that weightlifting has done more than merely serve as an athletic pursuit.

“In the sport and out of the sport too, I feel like weightlifting has disciplined me in my lifestyle choices,” Williams said.