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Team USA weightlifter proves you don't have to be big to be strong

She's a 4-foot-11 former competitive cheerleader who started lifting at 195 pounds when she was 16.

SUWANEE, Ga. — First-time Olympian weightlifter Jourdan Delacruz doesn't adhere to the stereotypes of weightlifters: She's a 4-foot-11 former competitive cheerleader who started lifting at 195 pounds when she was 16.

Despite her small stature, she's a force to be reckoned with at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She found weightlifting in the summer of 2014, qualified for the Youth World Weightlifting Championships and asked to go to an Olympic training center within 18 months. 

"It's cool that there are more smaller bodyweight people who are getting in the sport and pushing the stereotype that you have to be big to be strong," Delacruz said.

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Her parents were always squatting and deadlifting in the garage. So while weightlifting was foreign to her body, her eyes were familiar with the sport. 

"I have this baby picture that I am in a diaper, but I'm in a deep squat perfect technique, so I really do feel like I was destined to do weightlifting," Delacruz said. 

Delacruz was a competitive cheerleader looking to try CrossFit during her off-season to build strength, and ever since then, that's all she's done. Delacruz said she believes weightlifting is more of a mental mindset rather than a physical one. 

"Sometimes your body can do so much more than you think it can," she said. 

The 23-year-old moved from Texas to Suwanee, Ga., to train at Power & Grace Performance and hopes to get a gold medal during her first Olympic Games. 

"Obviously, I want to do my very best -- I want to lay it all out there," she said. "Getting a gold medal would be amazing, but I want to be able to remember everything at the Olympics, be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for the entire experience."

Although she might not be getting the traditional Olympic experience, Delacruz is ecstatic that the games are happening. 

She will represent Team USA in the 49-kilogram class competing this Saturday, July 24.


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