Athena Schrijver (Rohnert, Calif.) took a few minutes to talk with USA Weightlifting before she headed off to the 2016 IWF Youth World Championships in Penang, Malaysia.
Schrijver, the youngest athlete on Team USA's roster for Youth Worlds, holds five youth American records. At only 15 years of age, she has already surpassed the qualifying total for USAW (Senior) National Championships. This summer, she won gold at the 2016 USAW Youth National Championships in the 69kg category with a 43kg lead over second place.
When do you start weightlifting?
I started five years ago at Myles Ahead Weightlifting.
What motivated you to try out the sport?
I was a competitive gymnast, and my coach told me to starting lifting to get stronger for gymnastics. I enjoyed it so much that I stopped gymnastics several years ago and began focusing solely on weightlifting.
Have you had the same coach throughout the five years?
Yes. Freddie Myles has been my coach since I started. He's also coming to Youth Worlds as one of the team coaches.
Have you ever competed internationally?
In 2014, I lifted in the U15 International Youth Invitational in Colorado Springs. I didn't travel internationally for it, but I competed against other countries. Youth Worlds will be my first time traveling out of the United States for a weightlifting competition.
What are you looking forward to the most at Youth Worlds?
I am excited to meet all of the people from other countries. While I recognize some of my competitors' names, such as Rebekah Tiler, I haven't met any of them. One of my teammates, Maddie Stenbo, will also be lifting in the 69kg category. We have trained together a lot at the Olympic Training Center, and it will fun to compete together.
Do you have any pre-competition rituals?
I have a lot! I'm a little superstitious. After I weigh-in, I eat a bagel with cream cheese and sausage. I wear the same socks for every competition. I listen to music as I am warming up and always do the same platform routine.
Do you have a favorite lift?
Whatever feels better that day.
What are some of your most memorable moments in weightlifting?
Competing in Youth Nationals every year has been my favorite part. We all train very hard and motivate each other to get to our best lifts. Once we compete, it's such a great feeling.
I've also had a lot of great memories at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It's always fun to see everyone again and train together. We are one big family; everyone knows each other really well.
Are there any lifters that you look up to?
Mattie Rogers. I've trained with her at the Olympic Training Center and gotten to know her. She's very nice and supportive. It's motivating to strive to get to her level.
Athena will lift on Monday, October 24, at 7AM Eastern. Follow Athena on Instagram at @athena._.schrijver for behind-the-scenes action!