LEWISVILLE, N.C. -- Olympic hopefuls in the sport of weightlifting are flocking to the Piedmont.
December Garcia packed up her belongings and moved here from Corpus Christi, Texas, so she could train with Travis Mash, one of only a handful of certified trainers sanctioned by USA Weightlifting in the country.
“He has a pretty good following on Instagram and that's how I knew about him and all the girls who train here are ridiculously strong so I knew he could get people strong so that's why I wanted to come here,” Garcia said.
The move is paying off for Garcia.
“The goal for her is the Olympics. She's definitely considered an Olympic hopeful at this point. She bronze medaled at the nationals this past year,” Mash said.
“I don't want to look back five, 10 years from now and, 'Man I should have gone and really pursued my dreams,' so I'm pursuing my dreams,” Garcia said.
Mash continued, “She increased her total 14 kilos. She went from being pretty good to one of the best in the country. Fourteen kilos is a massive improvement in one 12-week cycle so we're happy.”
Morgan McCullough is the top ranked 14-year-old in the county. His potential is off the charts. He's been serious about lifting for six years now.
“I had realized that I was way better at weightlifting than any of the other sports that I had been playing so I decided that weightlifting was all I wanted to do,” Morgan said
Even with potential Olympians, the most intriguing athlete at Mash Elite is 9-year-old Lilla Heath. Lilla's parents are into CrossFit, so this became a natural extension
“You never know when you are going to get a better lift or when you are going to get better at it and every time you get better at it you get to go to more and more competitions and I like the weight lifting competitions a lot,” Lilla said.
But how young is too young? Mash, who is writing a book, feels he has research to support his position.
I'll simplify it even more. If they lift with correct form, studies have shown not only do they have less risk of injury compared to soccer, for example, where there are about three injuries per 1,000 hours. In weightlifting there are .03 injuries per 1,000 hours. If you are confident to put your daughter on a soccer field then you should have zero worry about putting them in the weight room
So it's not about the weight, but the proper technique which can help athletes no matter what the sport.