Bentley’s strength measured in more than numbers [COLUMN]

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

The story above involving Maddie Bentley was a fun one to work on, because of how unusual and interesting a story it is. I don’t know of many weightlifters under the age of 18, and certainly don’t know of many who are female.

The most interesting aspect of Maddie’s story isn’t what gender she is, nor what sport she participates in. What makes her story unique is that while she has to be strong physically to perform, it’s arguable she has to be even more mentally tough.

It takes a strong person to chase after their passion, no doubt. But to do it in the face of everyone around you making fun of you and questioning your decision making?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could do it.

This realization isn’t to make her out to be a hero. Judging by the interviews with her and her mother as well as her trainer (an expanded article will appear in the next Shelby Living), she isn’t in it to be one. Instead, she’s just doing what she loves, much as another athlete enjoys cheerleading, soccer or basketball. It’s just refreshing to see a young athlete who is wise enough to realize that a sport isn’t worth giving up because some people with a mean streak disapprove.

It also takes a strong person to let their child pursue something like that. In my interview with Amanda Bentley, I was very impressed to see that she and her husband let Maddie have the freedom to pursue weightlifting, because she was good at it and had a passion for it. They never tried to steer her in a more “politically correct” direction, instead letting her go after what made her happy.

Amanda, a cancer survivor, seemed to know a thing or two about mental toughness, and judging from what everyone said about how Maddie handled being picked on, Amanda’s passed it down.

Sometimes, a person’s strength isn’t measured in how much they can press, squat or curl. Sometimes, it’s about how much negativity they can take while pursuing a dream and never lose a step.

In any case, the Bentleys are a strong bunch.