Eyes on the Olympics, hands on the barbell

Talia Lloyd lifts during the recent USA Weightlifting 2015 National Youth Championships. Photo courtesy of Lee Lloyd
Talia Lloyd lifts during the recent USA Weightlifting 2015 National Youth Championships.
Photo courtesy of Lee Lloyd

Talia Lloyd weighed only 85 pounds when she lifted a 101-pound barbell to her shoulders in one motion and then heaved it over her head during a national competition this summer.

“She was lifting 18 percent more than her body weight over her head,” said her father, Lee Lloyd.

Talia, who is about to enter seventh grade at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, came home to Rockville in June with two silver medals in the girls 13 and under 86 pounds division at the USA Weightlifting 2015 National Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“She set all new personal records,” her father said.


And at 12 years of age, Talia already has her sights on the Olympics.

“I want the whole world to know me as the little girl that won the Olympics, or won nationals,” she said last week during a phone interview while vacationing on Nantucket Island with her family.

She had been a gymnast as a little girl, but lost interest around first grade, her father said.

Three years ago, she joined a cross-fitness class and began training in weightlifting, calisthenics and gymnastics. Meanwhile, her father was weightlifting at the same gym, Tough Temple CrossFit in Rockville.

Talia recalled that she “liked [weightlifting] at first, but over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten stronger, and I love it now.”

She particularly savors “the way I feel when I succeed in a lift. It makes me feel powerful.”
During competition, Talia stands alone on stage, approaching the barbells. She stamps her feet a few times and then jumps up and down, her ponytail waving. She then performs her lift.

When the bell sounds, denoting she was successful, Talia drops the barbell and walks off the stage.

To make it appear so smooth and easy, Talia trains between one hour and an hour-and-a-half a day, five days a week, depending on how much homework she has. Half the time she lifts in her basement; on the other days, she lifts at the gym in Rockville.

“I listen to music most of the time. Pop, a little rock, the kind of music that makes your adrenalin start pumping,” said Talia, who is the only female on her school’s wrestling team. She also enjoys singing and with Back to Rock America’s Music School.

Her weightlifting coach at CrossFit, Manuel Buitrago, credits much of Talia’s improvement to her ability to focus.

When he started teaching Talia more than two years ago, “she was younger, and it was harder to keep her focused,” he said.

As she continues to improve in that area, “good things are going to happen,” he said.

Talia’s love for weightlifting helped her create a project for her upcoming bat mitzvah, which she will celebrate at Shaare Torah Congregation in Gaithersburg.

She developed Ka$h4kilos, a project designed to raise money for programs that support at-risk youth through Olympic weightlifting training and competition.

She would love other children to “feel the amazing feeling you get when you weightlift.”

Talia not only relishes that sensation, she also has been able to rise to the top. Last year, she earned gold in the girls 11 and under 86 pounds division at the 2014 national championships in Daytona, Fla.

She won silver in the snatch, which is when a weightlifter lifts the bar from the ground to overhead in one movement, and bronze in the clean and jerk, which involves hefting the barbells to the shoulders and then over the head.

“Every time she would go to a meet, she would do even better,” her father said. Earning that gold medal “really spurred her on.”

Last year, she earned a spot on the USA 13 and Under National Weightlifting Team, where she lived and trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for one week.

Her brother, 9, “insisted on going to watch her. He is her biggest fan,” Lee Lloyd said.

Her father told Talia the family would take her to competitions and trainings, wherever they take place, as long as she commits to her training — which, so far, she is more than willing to do.

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