Pocket sized goliath set to represent Canada at worlds


She rubs the powdered chalk between her already calloused palms. She pulls her hair back out of her eyes and into a ponytail, adjusts her belt and walks over to the weights. After adding more heavy plates to each end, her hands wrap around the bar, she rocks back and forth preparing for the lift.

For now, this is her life.

Sheridan grad and Canadian Olympic weightlifting team member Amanda Braddock, 26, is on her way to the world championships in Houston in November.

Braddock began weightlifting only a few years ago, but that didn’t stop her from qualifying for the Pan Am Games this past summer.

“It was amazing. It was a totally once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Braddock. “It was my first international competition and it was definitely a learning experience.”

She finished last, however this spunky five-foot, 106-pound weightlifter won’t let that stop her.

After a disappointing performance at the Pan Ams, Braddock had one more opportunity to qualify for this year’s world championships.

The total weight that she made in her lifts at the Pan Ams wasn’t enough to qualify her for the world championships. To do so she would have to lift an even bigger total at the Blue Mountain Open in Collingwood.

She did just that.

“I got my best total ever. I hit a 72-kilogram snatch and an 88-kilogram clean and jerk,” said Braddock. “I hit it on my second attempt. I had one more attempt at 90 kilograms, but at that point I had already put up a pretty good total and one that was probably going to get me to worlds.”

To put that into perspective, Braddock lifted approximately twice her weight above her head, all while having a huge smile plastered across her face.

Brampton native Amanda Braddock practicing her clean and jerk at Radix Performance Centre in Oakville

Brampton native Amanda Braddock practicing her clean and jerk at Radix Performance Centre in Oakville

However, after qualifying for the world championships she had to make some tough decisions.

Braddock graduated from the Human Resources Management program at Sheridan College in June. After finishing her placement with the Halton District School Board she had to decide whether to pursue work in the field or train for her sport.

“I felt like I could be competitive on the international stage. But it was too difficult to balance with a full-time job,” said Braddock. “I had to put some thought into it when I finished my co-op. I had to decide whether I wanted to look for another full-time job and continue to do this in the evening – or if I really wanted to dedicate as much time to the worlds as I could, and then the Olympics hopefully.”

She decided to give all of her focus on the worlds, with the potential to compete in the Olympics in 2016.

Although weightlifting is an individual competition, there is a large team aspect as well.

Depending on how the Canadian team places at worlds and nationals will dictate how many spots Canada is awarded for the Olympics.

“As a team our points are added up and then it allows you a certain number of Olympic spots as a country,” said Braddock.



At the last Olympics in 2012, Canada only sent three women to compete and no men qualified.

“I have this one kind of crazy chance at the Olympics, which is insane to say or think about. But it’s a possibility,” said Braddock. “I didn’t want to not make it because I have this crazy schedule. If I don’t make it that’s one thing, but I want to make sure that I can say that I tried.”

Braddock is also being sponsored for the first time – by Oakville gym Radix Performance Centre, where she trains.

“To be able to have them support me right of the bat, is super trusting of them,” said Braddock. “I want to make them proud.”

According to gym owner and head coach Daniel Thessien, it’s just as much of an honour to have Braddock training and teaching there.

“The first week we were open we went in and watched her teach her Saturday classes. We observed and watched her coach,” said Thessien. “I could tell that she knows more than just how to do it. She knows how to teach people how to do it. She understands weightlifting at a deeper level than I’ve pretty much ever seen.”

Even though the gym’s only been open for a little under two months, Thessien and his fiancé and co-owner Rachael DeYoung have been very supportive of their athletes.

“We wanted to sponsor Amanda’s Olympic journey because she makes weightlifting really accessible. I’ve watched her coach middle-aged men, teenaged girls and experienced athletes, and they can all relate to and look up to her,” said DeYoung.

Not only is a Braddock and exceptional athlete but she is also a teacher and role model for other students at her gym.

“She’s a very talented athlete and she’s an excellent role model for young girls to see how weightlifting lets you be feminine and embrace your true body type by training like an athlete. We’re so excited to watch her show the world how awesome Canadian girls are.”

Despite the fact that she hasn’t been competing for years, Braddock certainly has a talent for the sport.

“At the last competition she missed her first two snatches and had to go up in weight and hit it or it would be all over. She did it. There’s a certain type of athlete that shows up in those situations,” said Thessien. “I mean I couldn’t ask for more from an athlete.”

DeYoung and Thessien sponsor five athletes altogether: two boxers and two kick boxers but Braddock is their only weightlifter.

“I love being able to watch them grow, help wherever I can. For me I’d rather spend money on these guys rather than pointless marketing,” said Thessien. “I’d rather give it to them so that they can compete at the highest level.”

For now Braddock, her sponsors and her coaches are focused on her performance at the world championships. The results of the Canadian team’s lifts at the worlds could decide Braddock’s future in the sport of weightlifting.

“I probably always want to be involved in the sport, but I can’t see myself doing it full-time forever. I have other interests too. It’s not like I’ve been weightlifting my whole life and it’s something I can’t live without,” said Braddock. “You could get injured one day and it could all be over.”