Raymond Terrace teen Rhys Stewart lifting above his weight

LIFT POWER: Fourteen-year-old Rhys Stewart in training at the Raymond Terrace Deck Crossfit under the guidance of Adam and Alana Edwards.
LIFT POWER: Fourteen-year-old Rhys Stewart in training at the Raymond Terrace Deck Crossfit under the guidance of Adam and Alana Edwards.

Thousands of talented sporting boys and girls dream of representing their country at the Olympics, but due to the fierce competition only a select few will ever have the privilege to perform on the world stage.

In a short space of time 14-year-old Raymond Terrace athlete Rhys Stewart has demonstrated that he has the capability, the dedication and physique to succeed at the highest level as a weightlifter.

The Year 9 Irrawang High student says he "almost fell into" the Olympic sport 12 months ago after taking up Crossfit classes at the Raymond Terrace Deck gymnasium.

Entering his first competition at Adamstown in November, Stewart won the under 15 (67kg) division and broke three state records.

"Because it was my first competition I had no real expectations, so the results were quite a shock," he said.

Buoyed by the victory, Stewart competed at the Hunter barbell open competition at the same venue last week, breaking the records he set three months earlier and at the same time qualifying for the national championships to take place in Sydney in October.

The new records were in the 68kg snatch and the 80kg clean and jerk for a total of 148kg.

"I really was not expecting to break those records again but it's an awesome feeling. It has given me the confidence to build on these lifts as I look forward to the state championships [in July] and later the nationals," the teen said.

Rhys Stewart, 14, with trainers Alana and Adam Edwards.

Rhys Stewart, 14, with trainers Alana and Adam Edwards.

Stewart, who stands at 165cm tall and weighs in at 66kg, said that the competition results have provided him the motivation to aim for bigger and better results.

"I am currently doing about eight hours a week training, which I really enjoy," he said.

"I get a real adrenaline when lifting weights and it is something I can see myself doing well into the future. I understand there is plenty of work to be done and the Olympics would be a dream, but I feel fortunate to have great coaching and family to guide me."

Stewart's coaches Adam and Alana Edwards, from Vagabond Barbell based in both Raymond Terrace and Clarence Town, are excited about Stewart's prospects, yet cautious when discussing any long-term aspirations.

"Rhys is super keen and he has a great attitude to training, which is a great thing. He has shown plenty of promise since taking up the barbells and I have no doubt he has what it takes to succeed," said Adam.

"Currently we want to keep it light and focus on technique. The competition will get tougher this year but provided he can stay committed he will continue to improve."

In weightlifting, athletes lift a weighted barbell in both the snatch and the clean and jerk.

The snatch is a wide-grip, one-move lift. The clean and jerk is a close-grip, two-move lift. Each weightlifter receives three attempts in each, and the combined total of the highest two successful lifts determines the overall result within a bodyweight category.

Stewart's record lifts in the two competitions he has entered came in all three lifts.

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