Nelson weightlifter Stella Hampton may be diminutive in size but her strength is taking her all over the world.
The 16-year-old, who barely tips the scales at 57kg, will compete at the IWF World Youth Championships and Youth Commonwealth Games next month.
The under-58kg clean and jerk, and snatch, competitor is ranked No 1 in New Zealand at an under-20 level and is in the New Zealand High Performance Squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Stella often has combined competition total lifts of 122kg and believes it is more mental than physical.
“One good thing about weightlifting is that it’s easy to see progress.
“Because it’s one of those sports with a repetitive movement, I’m almost relying on my body to do what it’s trained to do,” she says. “I’m pretty much thinking of nothing so that my body can focus on what it’s meant to do.”
Stella finished second in the Oceania Championships in the under-53kg category last year, but this would be her first major international competition against traditional powerhouses China and Russia.
“It will be fun to meet everyone and find out where they have all come from to get here, plus the lifters I meet will be the ones competing against me for years to come.”
It’s been a meteoric rise for Stella, who first tried the sport with her father Paul.
“Two years ago I got into the sport as something to do and I found I really enjoyed the challenge of it.
“Knowing that I want to get stronger and better is one thing, but knowing that my success comes down to me is what keeps me going.”
Stella says her quiet nature means her weightlifting exploits go unnoticed by those around her.
“I’m a quiet person and quite awkward when it comes to talking about my sport, but when people do find out they go ‘really? But you’re such a small person’.”
Stella also thanked her sponsors, Fit Superstore Richmond and Mad Butcher.