I can do this!

Norah Burke executes a proper clean and jerk as she trains for the USAW Youth National qualifier in December. Burke qualified for the event virtually, performing the lifts in her home garage while being recorded and cheered on by her family and friends.

Norah Burke, 9, is headed for the USA Weightlifting (USAW) National Youth Championship’s in December after qualifying as a regional finalist from her garage.

Like many events in 2020, COVID-19 forced setbacks in Burke’s pursuit of qualifying for the USAW National Youth Championship; an event that was to be held in June, will now be held in early December.

After silver medaling at a state qualifier meet in January 2020, Burke was set to compete at a regional qualifying meet in San Antonio. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meet was cancelled.

At the time, it was unclear whether Burke would get her shot to qualify for Youth National’s.

Fortunately, USAW was committed to allowing its athletes to achieve their dream.

Instead of hosting another regional meet, USAW gave its athletes the option of competing in a virtual qualifier.

Through video, Burke needed to perform the qualifying lifts, snatch, and the clean and jerk, using proper form.

She competed in the women’s 13 and under, 30 kilogram (66 lbs.) weight class.

After failing to meet her required totals in March 2020, she tried again in April 2020 and succeeded.

Burke lifted 15 kilograms (33 lbs.) in the snatch, and 17 kilograms (37 lbs.) in the clean and jerk. She performed the lifts from inside her garage while being recorded from the center judge’s point of view.

After hitting her totals, Burke and her family knew she had done enough to qualify.

“I was really excited, a little nervous, and super happy,” said Burke.

Two days after submitting the recordings to USAW, Burke received confirmation she indeed qualified.

Qualifying for nationals is the first step to qualify for the Junior Olympics.

After Nationals, it’s Pan-American, World championships, and then Junior Olympics.

Burke began lifting when she was seven years old. From the outset, it was always her goal to qualify for Youth Nationals.

Qualifying at a weight of 21 kilograms (46 lbs.) in the 30 kilogram weight class, Burke said she wants to continue adding healthy weight to her frame so she can lift heavier.

“I’m going to try to be able to lift more weights because all of your other competitors are going to be moving up in their weight; what they can lift, how much they weigh,” said Burke. “If you just stay the same, you’re not going to have a good chance of getting anywhere.”

With the help of her lifting coach, D.J. Bray, she hopes to meet some high expectations come December.

She plans to hit 27 kilograms (59 lbs.) in the snatch, and 30 kilograms in the clean and jerk.

The USAW National Youth Championship will be held from Dec. 3-6 in Atlanta, GA.

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