Athlete of the Week: Sarah Uschmann, Palmer’s national champion weightlifter

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 3:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If Palmer’s Sarah Uschmann is unable to be reached, she is likely at the Palmer High School gym, alone, tossing weights around.

”It is really hard to train alone, especially in this gym,” the 18-year old said inside the weight room. “I blast as much music as I possibly can but still, it’s sometimes a little hard and I have to call my coach like, ‘hey I need some help,’ and she will call me and help me through it, but it is definitely super hard.”

The reason is that Uschmann’s coach lives in Washington D.C. and there is not a hefty competitive weightlifting community in the area.

The recent Palmer High School graduate dropped most of her other sports and picked up competitive weightlifting full-time at the beginning of 2018.

“I was like, wow I actually really like weightlifting, which is kind of weird, but I liked it,” Uschmann said.

By the end of 2019, the Alaskan was one of the strongest girls in the country. Uschmann set the youth American snatch record at 92 kilograms and no girl has lifted more since.

”The fact that it is still standing today and it happened three years ago, which is really fun, because usually they get broken annually by new, incoming people,” Uschmann said.

Since the record-breaking performance, Uschmann powerlifted her way through the COVID-19 pandemic, even through moments of doubt.

“I think a lot of athletes felt, ‘this sucks,’ training by yourself, not being able to see your friends,” Uschmann said. “I went through a coaching switch last year so that was also very hard mentally for me, so I have thought about it more times than I can probably count.”

Powering through paid off this summer, when Uschmann became a Junior National Champion in the snatch at 101kg, clean and jerk at 120kg, and her overall total of 221kg at the 2022 USA Weightlifting National Championships in Las Vegas.

”My hands were tingling, I was so happy, I was smiling ear to ear,” Uschmann said. “And I don’t really show my emotions very well, I am usually very composed when it comes to competition and just kind of being with my coach and being happy with her, but it was amazing.”

Now a Palmer High graduate, Uschmann is off to train at Northern Michigan University with other members of Team USA weightlifting as she takes pre-veterinary courses.

But, no matter where the sport takes her, she will take what she gains from the weight room and apply it to everyday life.

“I am a very ultracompetitive person as well, so I think kind of just pushing myself to be the best person that I can be, academically, athletically, in my community, that is something that I think weightlifting has definitely helped me with.”

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