Destined to Soar: An interview with Rory van Ulft, US Weightlifting Youth National Champion

Destined to Soar: An interview with Rory van Ulft, US Weightlifting Youth National Champion

Celeste Kocabay

 Destined to SOAR.

This interview series is aimed at celebrating, recognising and promoting the incredible talent and ferocious courage of our young women of tomorrow. 

Let's recognise the magnificent effort of girls' in sport across all codes!

Today our interview is with weightlifting youth sensation and 3x US Youth National Champion Rory van Ulft. Soar Active had the privilege to catch up with Rory and chat about her love for Weightlifting.

1. Rory, tell us about your early life?

Rory: As long as I can remember, I have been doing sports. When I was little, I tried a lot of different sports, but I’ve always liked gymnastics the best.

2. So how did you discover Weightlifting?

Rory: When I was five, I got invited to try out for a competitive gymnastics team. My dad did some research and found that weightlifting could be a good way to strengthen my body and help with gymnastics.

3. What was your next step?

Rory: My parents did some looking around and found a weightlifting gym in Ottawa that had a coach with experience in youth weightlifting. I started training with him and really liked it. I also quickly realized that I was good at it, which was a big surprise.

4.  How do you balance your competitive training and managing school?

Rory: Right now, it is not hard to balance training and school because I have to finish all my schoolwork before I work out. My teachers are really supportive and help me find ways to study and keep up if I am away for competitions.

5. What do you do in your downtime?

Rory: When I have downtime, I like to watch movies, read, hang out with my friends and play Nintendo. I also ski in the winter and go to the beach in the summer.

6. What makes you feel happy, brave, and strong?

I always feel so good when I achieve a goal I set for myself, like when I get a new skill in gymnastics or lift a new weight.

7. Tell us about a special moment in the last year?

Rory: In January 2022, I became the youngest person ever to lift 2 times my body weight in the clean and jerk (an Olympic-style lift). I wanted to do it in competition before I turned 10, so I worked really hard to get there. When I did, my coach, parents and my whole team was there for support and to celebrate with me. Then we went to Chuck E Cheese!

8. What is your ultimate goal?

Rory: My ultimate goal is to get to the weightlifting world championships when I am old enough. But for now I just take everything in gymnastics and weightlifting one day at a time and keep working hard.

9. What's your favourite attribute about yourself?

Rory: My favourite attribute about myself is that I never give up.

10. Favourite song right now on repeat?

Rory: Right now I love the song Purple Hat by Sofi Tukker.

11. What has Weightlifting taught you about life?

Rory: The most important thing that weightlifting has taught me is that no matter what you are doing, try your best. It works for everything!

12. What would you say to other young females about following their dreams?

Rory: What I would say to other young females about following their dreams is that you can do anything and everything. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!

Follow Rory's journey on Instagram or on her website at 


Know another inspiring young teen or want to be featured? 

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