Teenage weightlifter, Amy Hamilton from Knightswood in Glasgow, received a boost to her hopes of competing in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India (11-18 October 2008), after being crowned the first Athlete of the Month by the team’s sponsor, Clydesdale Bank and Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS).
16 year old Amy, who is the Athlete of the Month for April is one of Scotland’s best young female weightlifters and enjoyed a highly successful 2007. She represented Great Britain in the European Youth Championships and became British Champion at junior (under 20), under 18 and under 17 levels. So far this year she has defended her junior title and become British Schools Champion.
Her success has come just two years after starting the sport. She discovered weightlifting whilst training at the Glasgow School of Sport, Bellahouston Academy as an acro-gymnast. Combining the excitement of circus acrobatics with the skill and precision of gymnastics, acro is a team event where partners counterbalance each other to perform acrobatic feats. As the strongest of her acro-gymnastics trio, Amy was literally the base of the tower for her team mates.
“I could be in the splits whilst holding two people above me which takes strength, power and balance, the same things you need as a weightlifter,” said Amy at her club, the Palace of Arts Weightlifting Club, where she received her award on Friday.
“My gymnastics career was going well but coaches told me I had better prospects as a weightlifter. It’s more of an individual sport and it’s about how hard you can push yourself. So there’s more personal achievement than in gymnastics where there were three of us in one partnership, where everyone had to be at their best to be the most productive.”
Athletic and sleek of limb, through weightlifting Amy has reduced her weight from 63kg to a current, trim 55kg.
“People often say to me “you don’t look like a weightlifter”, then when I ask them what a weightlifter is supposed to look like they say ‘manly and muscular’. I tell them that’s bodybuilding.”
Yet for all her grace and poise retained from gymnastics, Amy can lift astonishing amounts of weight. Her best Snatch – throwing the bar from floor to above her head in one movement – is 60kg (nine and a half stone). Her Clean and Jerk – a two part lift from the floor to shoulders then overhead – is up to 71 kg (a shade over 11 stone).
Ray Cavanagh is the coach who guides Amy through as many as two training sessions a day, six days a week, “Amy is naturally strong and flexible, has progressed very quickly to get to this standard and she’s as motivated as they come.”
Amy has just been invited onto the newly formed British World Class Weightlifting Youth Squad. She has also been selected to compete for Great Britain again at this summer’s European Youth Championships in France, an offer she declined so she could concentrate on making Scotland’s Commonwealth Youth Games team.
“We’re also turning down a schools competition in Austria because we are concentrating on the Commonwealth Youth Games and don’t want interruptions,” said Cavanagh.
“Pune is important because it will prime her up for the senior Commonwealth Games in Delhi or Glasgow. This will be her first multi-sport games and an important experience for her.”
Amy has already achieved the qualifying criteria and will find out in August, when CGS considers all nominations against the sport’s selection policy, if she is in the team.
In the meantime she is delighted to be Athlete of the Month and excited about nearing her ultimate goal of competing in a future Games. “It’s great to win this award and the £300 will be really helpful for buying new equipment and paying for using the gym,” she said.
“Long term I’m looking at Delhi or Glasgow and I’d love to make it to London. India will be a great experience and hopefully I can be in medal contention.”