Danielle Durante medals at Weightlifting Championships

15 Apr

You may know a lot of things about Danielle like her expertise as a trainer or her unmistakeable laugh that occasionally echoes through the gym. But you may not know that Danielle is one of the strongest women in the country.

In March, Danielle traveled to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the 2012 USAW National Weightlifting Championships. With a third place finish at last year’s Nationals, Danielle was set on fighting her way back into the top three and improving on her performance from the previous year.

If you’re new to the sport, Olympic-style weightlifting involves two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. And the competition is simple. You get three attempts to successfully lift the most weight in each of the movements. The lifter with the highest combined total of their best snatch and clean and jerk wins.

Day in and day out, after being on her feet all day, Danielle stayed late at FIT hitting lift after lift under the close supervision of coach Rob. The work was hard and progress was slow. Still she had to show up each day and be mentally ready to do it all over again. By the time Danielle showed up to Columbus for the meet, she had reached her mental and physical limit. But Danielle is a fierce, seasoned competitor who knows how to block out the discomfort and perform at the right time.

Describing what it’s like before she went out on to the stage, Danielle explains, “You hear the fans. It’s motivating. You get that nervous energy. I was pacing beforehand. Rob had to sit me down and force me to relax while I visualized making my lift.”

The competition didn’t start according to plan. Danielle missed her first snatch attempt at 65kg. She quickly recovered and nailed her second attempt at the same weight. Then, needing a big lift, Danielle nailed her final attempt at 68kg for second place at the end of the snatch phase.

But Danielle had more to come. After easily making her first clean and jerk attempt at 80kg, Danielle missed her second at 83kg. Under tremendous pressure, and long break, she hit a new personal best on her third and final clean and jerk attempt at 83kg to solidify her spot once again in the top three of the 53kg weight class.

Coach Rob recalls that, “We had done a lot of work to get her mentally prepared. We had done a lot of work to get her mentally prepared. Danielle was a true professional. She was confident and in control.”

After all the results were tallied, Danielle stood on top of the podium rightfully proud of what she had accomplished. “I set a new personal best in the clean and jerk as well as my total. It’s been a long time coming,” said Danielle.

When asked what was next, she replied, “I still have personal goals I have yet to reach. I want to snatch 70kg and clean and jerk 90kg in competition, be in the top three of the American Open in December, and make the Olympic Trials.”

As impressive as those goals are, Danielle is already proud of what she’s accomplished. When asked about what it’s like to compete as a female strength athlete, Danielle explains, “People don’t expect it. But when they hear what I can do, I gain their respect.”

Danielle has certainly earned our admiration and respect and we here at FIT look forward to supporting at the American Open in Palm Springs this winter.

Road trip anyone!?

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