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Dade Stanley Ditches Football For Weightlifting, Sweeps Silvers At Youth Worlds

By Brandon Penny | March 12, 2019, 1:11 a.m. (ET)

Dade Stanley (L) celebrates on the men's 81 kg. podium at the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships on March 11, 2019 in Las Vegas.


LAS VEGAS – Dade Stanley started weightlifting when he was 11 years old in an effort to compliment his football training and increase his strength on the field.

Five years later football is far in the rearview mirror for Stanley, who is now a world medalist in weightlifting.

The Beaufort, South Carolina, native who turns 17 at the end of the month swept the silver medals in the men’s 81 kg. Monday evening at the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships.

He went five for six, putting up 133 kg. in the snatch and 155 kg. in the clean & jerk for a 288 kg. total. Yessenkeldi Sapi of Kazakhstan won all three golds (134 kg., 175 kg., 309 kg.) and Peruvian Amel Karim Atencia Priou took the bronzes (122, 152, 274). Team USA’s Kayleb Quintero was fourth across the board (110, 140, 250).

Stanley is the third U.S. competitor to medal at this year’s worlds, matching the U.S. record of three each from the 2016 and 2017 youth worlds, with three days of competition remaining.

Stanley’s goal at every meet he enters is to hit personal records. He did that in both snatch and total in Las Vegas, and this time it came with the prestigious title of world medalist.

“I’m just happy to be able to bring this achievement to the U.S. because we don’t medal too often, so I’m glad I was able to represent my country in a positive way,” Stanley reflected.

He competed at last year’s Pan-American Youth Championships for Team USA, where he finished fifth in snatch, seventh in clean & jerk and sixth total, but competing under the lights at the WestGate Resort & Casino was in a league of its own.

“This wasn’t like anything that I’ve ever experienced before,” Stanley said. “Everything else has been quite competitive but competing on the world stage here and representing my country against other countries, it’s just something you can’t compare to any other meet.”

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Loud cheers from his U.S. teammates boosted his confidence and his performance, as did distinct yells from a friend from back home.

“I knew exactly who it was. One of my biggest fans, her name’s Johanna and she came all the way from Beaufort to support me.”

Stanley credits his success to the support of friends like Johanna, his parents, USA Weightlifting and coach Ray Jones, who he says is like a father.

Stanley’s weightlifting career began when he went into his middle school gym to improve his strength and he saw Jones holding an after-school program that included Olympic weightlifting. He tried it out and the rest is history. He ceased playing football at 13, in seventh grade.

“I love that it’s a very competitive sport and it’s not really a team sport, it’s how you do yourself,” Stanley said. “But how you do yourself can also help your team out, so it makes me really look into myself for motivation.”

Stanley’s team, Team Beaufort, also includes CJ Cummings, a five-time youth and seven-time junior world champion who holds the 73 kg. junior world records in clean & jerk and total.

While Stanley said training with Cummings is like training with any other athlete, he was able to benefit from Cummings’ advice before heading to Vegas.

“He told me to stay relaxed, stay calm. That’s always the key,” Stanley noted. “If you treat it as more than it is then you’re not going to do too well, at least in most cases. He just told me to stay chill and everything will work out, and it certainly did. I’m happy.”