Bentley headed to national weightlifting championship

Maddie Bentley works with a trainer at RPM Fitness in Hoover. She will competing in the USA Olympic Weightlifting Youth Nationals held June 12-15 in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Maddie Bentley works with a trainer at RPM Fitness in Hoover. She will competing in the USA Olympic Weightlifting Youth Nationals held June 12-15 in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

Maddie Bentley is a sixth grader at Briarwood Christian School. She enjoys theatre, show choir and cheerleading among other things.

She also happens to be an Olympic weightlifter. So much so, that she’s headed to the USA Olympic Weightlifting Youth Nationals held June 12-15 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Bentley said she got started following her mother Amanda’s bout with ovarian cancer.

“(My mom) had done crossfit for about a year,” she said. “Then when she started back, she started (at RPM Fitness in Hoover) and they had that kid’s program, (so) I started.”

While fully immersed in it now, Bentley said she had her doubts at first.

“The first time I did it, it made me really sore,” she said. “(The RPM staff) kept encouraging me, so I kept doing it.”

It wasn’t long before she realized she enjoyed it.

“About two weeks later, they started teaching me how to lift,” she said. “They started telling me I was pretty good at it, and asked me to be on the team.”

Though she loved the sport, she quickly began to realize not everyone around her appreciated or understood her passion. Bentley said several classmates, mostly boys, began to pick on her once they found out.

“They said some just really mean things,” she said. “I don’t think they really understood it. I came home crying because it really hurt my feelings. I finally just told a teacher, and that was kind of the end of it.”

With the bullying behind her, Bentley said she looked at it with a humorous view, and that she refused to let it deter her.
“It was mainly boys. I bet they were just scared that I was going to beat them up,” she said with a laugh.

She competed for the first time in Savannah, Ga., Aug. 21. She then sealed a trip to nationals in a competition held at RPM in November.

Bentley said she intends to spend the next 3-4 months working toward the national title, and had some advice for girls looking to get out of their comfort zone.

“If someone tries to tear you down and make you stop, don’t listen to them,” she said. “Keep doing it. You might find that you really love it, and don’t want to stop.”