Seventeen year old Rienna Skelton of Melita will be proudly wearing the Maple Leaf at the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Junior World Championships in Suva, Fiji in May. That’s a long way from five years ago when she kind of starting weightlifting by accident during workouts in the Melita School gym. Nathan Corrigan (gym teacher) was offering some weightlifting classes and Rienna thought she’d like to see what it was like.
“At first, I didn't know anything about weightlifting, as we only did basic movements (such as squatting, pressing) and other conditioning type workouts. It was during the summer of 2015 when Nathan and Sara opened their garage gym to the public that I first learned what a snatch and a clean and jerk was, and we were just learning it as more of a variation for workouts, not specifically for anything other than that. So, I guess you could say it was by accident that I started weightlifting.”
After about a year of consistent training, they decided to do a fun competition in Winnipeg. Rienna was encouraged to continue after speaking to a few individuals at the competition. “We realized that I wasn't half bad at it, and with more work I would only keep getting better. After that, conditioning and cross fit style workout slowly worked its way out of training until I was training strictly for a weightlifting competition in the fall.”
Rienna said in the beginning she was just doing the sport for fun and as something to do, (which is still one of the big reasons), but now with all of the opportunities to travel and compete, it's almost impossible to do a lot more sports outside of training. “But I do try and keep up with skating and playing rec volleyball as much as possible.”
There are many benefits to weightlifting. “It definitely has a huge impact on other sports, which is why so many people train weightlifting in the off-season for their sport of choice. Strength is one of the biggest benefits. Increased leg and arm strength allows for potential to run/swim/skate faster, along with jumping higher. Conditioning is another reason why weightlifting/conditioning workouts are important. With increased lung capacity, athletes have a larger stamina when it comes to running or swimming or skating for longer periods of time.,” she added.
As for training, Skelton enjoys training in Melita the most, but has made a couple of trips into Winnipeg. The purpose of those trips is to work with other coaches for some variation and it is helpful to have a different set of eyes “to really dial in small technical things.” She hasn’t officially met the other team members that are from BC and Quebec but has seen them all at various competitions.
As with any other sport or craft, many hours of training are required to maintain fitness and ability. Skelton says she has put in approximately 2100 hours in the gym. “Some of that could be chatting with other people though, I like to waste time some days,” she joked.
Asked if it is ever difficult to train or get motivated, Skelton had this to say:
“It definitely is a struggle to get to the gym some days, especially when I'm tired or stressed about school. But, usually I have a good time once I'm there, chatting and laughing with everyone around me. Recently though, I was quite unmotivated (I get burnt out really easily with most things, but in the 5 years I've been training, this was the first time I'd ever felt that way), so Nathan and I had to step back, talk about my goals and why I want to pursue them. After that, things got better, and now I'm right back where I used to be, excited and always ready for the gym.
Skelton’s immediate goals are to be more consistent with both her lifts, to eat more protein and drink lots of water. Her future goals are to keep it fun and take care of her body. Sounds very reasonable and wise.
The community is very proud of Rienna and want to help her out with trip expenses – a fundraiser will be held on May 24 at the Legion. Check future issues for more details.
Good luck in Fiji Rienna!