Van Ulft becomes the youngest person to clean and jerk off twice her body weight in competition.
In some ways, Canadian athlete Rory van Ulft might be one of the toughest competitors for her age to have seen weightlifting and powerlifting in a while. At just 9 years old, especially in the deadlift, van Ulft has earned a reputation for having impeccable traction and an “iron will” with a barbell in her hands (literally and figuratively). The athlete’s latest official addition to her weightlifting record, which includes a remarkable overhead lift, could be another entry in the growing lore of her burgeoning career.
On 1 February 21, 2023, van Ulft a 66 kg (145.5 pounds) clean and jerky during the 2023 Variety Village Open in Toronto, Canada. According to the caption in a video of the performance from van Ulft’s Instagram, assisted by a parent/manager, van Ulft had a body weight of 32.8 kilograms (72.4 pounds) on competition day. This in turn makes van Ulft the youngest person of all time, regardless of gender, to successfully complete a Clean & Jerk double their body weight in a sanctioned competition. Not to be outdone, a grand total of 254.39 Sinclair — the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) primary tool for contextualizing an athlete’s strength by weight class — van Ulft officially achieved the best performance of a 40-kilogram competitor to date.
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Aside from a stunning performance for someone her young age, van Ulft’s clean and jerky performance wasn’t her only major performance at the Toronto competition. According to the same Instagram caption, the athlete broke six Canadian provincial records with 15U and 17U on previous lifts during the competition. The final Double-Body Weight Clean & Jerk seemed more like a sauce layered over an already productive day for the elite youth competitor.
The parent/manager of van Ulft’s Instagram credited a few people for coaching van Ulft to enjoy such a productive day while making history. These included the athlete’s coach, Spencer Moorman, who can be seen in the background of the clip of van Ulft’s milestone encouraging the lifter. Others who received praise included coaches like “Cierra” (last name not given) and the CANAM strength and conditioning team from van Ulft’s native Ottawa, Canada. The Ontario Weightlifting Association (ONWA) also earned a shoutout.
“A huge thank you to Coach [Moorman] (who deserves to be Coach of the Year in at least one country for doing so!), [Cierra]and the whole [CANAM Strength and Conditioning] team for their incredible support of this event and to the [Ontario Weightlifting Association] for organizing such a fun and welcoming event!”
To contextualize van Ulft’s recent achievements and results at the American level, the athlete’s 66 kilograms (145.5 pounds) Clean & Jerk is eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) more than the USAW youth women’s record ) for the 40-kilogram weight class. Kendra Hoover holds the mark with a clean and jerk of 58 kilograms (127.8 pounds). However, Hoover notched her lift at 12, about three years older than van Ulft.
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2023 has only just begun and van Ulft is already acting as a lifting pioneer for her age group and beyond. With the athlete starting a fresh new calendar like this, time will only tell what other scintillating heights she could reach in the following 11 months.
Featured image: @roryvanulft on Instagram