Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Petite Powerhouse Packs Weightlifting Punch

By Sara White
8 Aug 2007

Mom Julie is running laps around the track. Dad Scott is working on bodybuilding techniques. Little brother Robby is lifting weights. And there in the northwest corner of the Smith Fieldhouse, 17-year-old Michelle Glasgow is practicing squats.

This is no unusual day in the life of Michelle.

"It has always been a kind of thing for our family to work out together," she said.

Michelle had taken three weeks off as a reward after winning the 2007 National School Age Championships in weightlifting, but the break is over.

Her father, BYU math professor Scott Glasgow, and fellow champion lifter Dave Chui coach Michelle as she trains among the informal group of faculty, students and alumni that make up Dynamo Sports Club.

Michelle is also supported by her mom, brother and three sisters who describe her as "goofy, but a confident goofy," said her mom, Julie.

Four-and-a-half years ago, Michelle first discovered her true talent. She started out like many girls at her age - doing track and field, playing soccer and other athletic activities. Her veteran lifting father thought weights could add a little spark to her sprints.

"I told her that if she did weightlifting and squats and stuff her sprints would get explosive," Scott Glasgow said. "Then she started lifting more than the state records."

Michelle's interest in the sport was not very strong when she first began lifting competitively.

"[My dad] made me go to my first competition," Michelle said. "I didn't really have any goals. It was really kind of for fun."

Since then, Michelle's skill has only improved and her interest has only increased. On Aug. 19 of last year in Colorado Springs, she won the Pan American Sub 15 Weightlifting Championships in her 53-kilogram (117 pounds) weight class and went on to be named to top lifter in the country for her age group.

"A girl from Mexico gave her a run for her money," Scott said. "But she became the best weightlifter over all the classes."

The boys, however, have not been giving Michelle much competition.

At the 2007 National School Age Weightlifting Championships in Springfield, Mo., her lifts were even better than most of the boys - many outweighing her by more than 50 pounds.

"It was Provo's Michelle Glasgow who really brought down the house," Chui said in an e-mail.

Even though it is rare that Michelle is able to compete head to head against boys, she does enjoy it.

"Competing against the guys is cool sometimes - if you beat them."

Michelle said the boys she has outlifted never really say anything to her.

"They're just kind of afraid, but they won't talk to me," she said.

However, her dad remembers differently.

At the Utah Summer Games, where Michelle competed in the Open Men's Event and set nine state records in her first time lifting at the competition, the boy that she beat asked her for her number, Scott said. He also quickly reported as of now, no date has come from the phone number exchange.

In competition, Michelle's events are the snatch -

where the lifter bends with the legs and in one motion lifts the bar from the platform to the full extent of the arms overhead - and the clean and jerk, where the weights are lifted overhead by first being brought up to the shoulders and then, using the combined strength of arms and legs, being raised overhead.

The petite powerhouse is able to lift 67.5 kilos (148 pounds) in the snatch and 91 kilos (200 pounds) in the clean and jerk. To help stay in shape, she also lifts a personal record of 112 kilos (250 pounds) for squats.

Michelle said it is hard to pick a favorite lift. Each has its own positives and negatives.

"The snatch is quicker and you can get it over with faster, so it is easier but it takes more skill," Michelle said. "I think I like snatch better."

To add to the weight of Michelle's load, she is in high school and is also a champion ballroom dancer with the Provo High School team.

"There are obstacles of different activities like dance," Michelle said. "I have to go to dance, then work out and do homework. There's just a whole bunch of stuff that piles all on one day."

Currently, Michelle is training for the Pan American Sub 17 Weightlifting Championships that will take place in Quebec in November.

Michelle has yet to break any national records, but she has come within 2 kilos of the national record for the clean and jerk.

"It seems clear she is going to break all three national records," Scott said.

"Mighty McG," as her friends call her, said she is not really nervous yet because she just had her first workout on Wednesday.

"I'll probably get nervous when it gets closer," Michelle said.

The weightlifting wonder has decided to take things slow. As far as her future goes, she said her parents have had a goal for her to go to the Olympics.

"I try to be realistic, but it would be great," Michelle said.

Her dad says it is more realistic than Michelle thinks.

"I think she could make the Olympic team in 2012," Scott said. "Weightlifters peak when they are about in their mid 20s or so. London would be when she's at her peak."

Michelle's parents do have their fears with her competing in this sport.

"I guess my biggest fear is if it gets to the point where it's not fun anymore - if it gets too serious," said Julie. "But Michelle is really good about keeping her head on straight. I just want her to be happy and have fun."

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