Stella, 15, makes NZ weightlifting team

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Fifteen year old Stella Hampton has added herself to Nelson’s long list of New Zealand sporting representatives, but her sport of choice isn’t netball, volleyball, touch or even softball.

Stella is a weightlifter.

The Nelson College for Girls student picked up the sport a year ago and hasn’t looked back. Her rapid development has seen her pick up three national titles and more recently she was selected to represent New Zealand at an Olympic Weightlifting training camp in New Caledonia.

She says she first thought about weightlifting as a way to work out, but her father Paul Hampton “forced” her to learn the technique properly first.

“And then I just got the hang of it quite easily and then took it from there. It’s quite an easy sport to see your progress, obviously your numbers get higher, so that’s rewarding and you feel stronger, and they are good people to be around.”

Stella joined the Nelson Weightlifting Club and trains with them at Results gym up to six times a week.

She admits there aren’t too many other 15 year old girls lining up to take up the sport.

“I haven’t met one other in Nelson and when I tell people that I do weightlifting I usually get ‘I wouldn’t have thought that’, it is odd coz I’m not exactly a built girl.”

Her selection for the New Zealand team “was a shock”, as she didn’t know about the training camp or that they were even looking at her.

“I had no idea and I just came back from a competition that I didn’t do too well at, so it was very surprising actually.

“I got a bit teary.”

Her selection is particularly impressive considering the lingering effects of a virus earlier this year means Stella can’t even feel her hands or feet.

“My hands and feet are numb all the time, from nerve damage or something. It was an auto immune issue and it affected the nervous system – completely separate from weightlifting. It used to send, like, electric shocks up and down my arms and legs when I did a lift, but now it’s not that bad.” Stella says she’d “love” to go to the Olympics one day but isn’t getting ahead of herself.

She would also like to thank Fit Superstore Richmond for sponsoring her.