Britain’s youngest-ever national weightlifting champion Rebekah Tiler is based in Yorkshire and has her sights set on Rio 2016. Lee Sobot reports.
Leeds-based weight-lifting stars Jack Oliver and Sarah Davies embarked on an American adventure this week as part of a three-pronged Yorkshire raid on the World Championships in Houston.
Both bring experience to the party with 24-year-old Oliver 10th at the London 2012 Olympics and 23-year-old Davies seventh at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Comparatively speaking, the third member of the Yorkshire travelling party is like chalk compared to cheese.
Because Keighley-based national champion Rebekah Tiler is preparing for her first senior international event aged just 16 as she declares: “I can’t wait to get on that platform and show them how to lift!”
Tiler, Oliver and Davies are part of a Team GB octet in Houston alongside Zoe Smith, Emily Godley, Mercy Brown, Gareth Evans and Sonny Webster.
Smith and Evans had also been based in Leeds when the sport’s national performance centre was situated in the city before being relocated to Loughborough.
Smith and Evans initially moved north in 2011 – when Tiler was just 12.
And just four years later the Yorkshire teenager is her country’s youngest-ever British champion who is heading for the World Championships just seven months after competing in April’s junior worlds where the 16-year-old bagged silver.
Now up massively in class to world senior level, Tiler admits she would be happy with a top-10 finish in Houston where Team GB’s team memmbers will be hoping to seal qualification for next year’s Rio Olympics.
Even by then Tiler will be only 17 but the message from the talented Yorkshire teenager is bring it on.
Like her Leeds-based Yorkshire compatriots Oliver and Davies, all eyes are on next year’s Games in South America though Tiler expects it will be in four years’ time when she particularly blossoms on a world wide stage.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post from Houston this week, Tiler explained: “For us to qualify for the Olympics we need 64 points and hopefully we can get those 64 points.
“Hopefully I will get those points here at the World Championship but there’s also qualifying at the European Championships though the main one is here.
“If not British Weightlifting will choose two people who have been successful this year. Hopefully it will be me that they pick. I’m 17 on January 13 so I’d be 17 in Rio but I just say bring it on. It would be an amazing experience.
“I won’t get anywhere but it’s just good to be with all the top athletes and see how they train and everything. That would be really cool.
“I think 2020 will be my main focus and hopefully I will get a gold medal there.
“I think by then I will be lifting 130 snatch, probably a bit more or hopefully a bit more and then clean and jerk probably 150 or 160 or 170.
“At the moment I can snatch 100 and clean and jerk 126.
“The other competitors in my weight category can snatch 110 but they are way older than me. I’ve still got a little bit to go yet but that’s what I’m hoping for and I think a gold is achievable. If I carry on training as I am and doing everything right and getting all the support from everyone and all my sponsors and everything and keeping on track then hopefully I will be world champion and Olympic champion. That’s the dream.”
Competition in Houston began yesterday with Tiler not lifting until Wednesday, giving the teenager ample opportunity to explore her impressive surroundings.
Yet for Tiler, this year’s visit to the USA is actually a trip down memory lane.
“I actually used to live in Florida,” revealed the teenager.
“I was about two years old and my parents got married there and lived there for a couple of years.
“I’ve just seen pictures of them getting married over there and stuff but I didn’t even know about it because I was so young.
“It’s been nice to come back, it’s cool and I think we are going to have a family holiday when we get a chance because I am always busy in training.
“Houston is amazing and the hotel that we are staying in is really nice.
“It’s got a swimming pool on the top and a beautiful view from where I am staying because I am pretty much on the top floor.
“I can see all the city where I am from.”
And Britain’s youngest ever champion can also see her entire sporting future ahead of her and any future glories will also be celebrated by West Yorkshire.
After her early years in the USA, Tiler was brought up in Denholme and attended Bingley Grammar School and Calderdale College where she still studies but the teenager has moved dangerously close to the Lancashire border at Todmorden to be nearer her gym at Mytholmroyd Community Centre.
There is, though, no danger of the teenager becoming a Lancastrian with Tiler flying the flag for Yorkshire as well as Team GB.
Tiler laughed: “We’ve actually moved recently now so I live in Todmorden so it’s kind of on the border of Lancashire but I’m definitely flying the flag for West Yorkshire!
“And I was actually the flag bearer for the Commonwealth Youth Games recently and they picked me out of everyone.
“That was a great achievement and I felt so proud just holding the flag with everyone cheering for me.
“It was a great experience and this year has just been brilliant as I’ve just come back from Lithuania not so long ago where I was European Junior Under-23 champion and before that I was in Samoa for the Commonwealth Youth Games where I got a gold medal which was cool.
“Now I’m doing my first world senior championships after only doing the World Youth Championships in April so it’s not bad really!
“It’s an amazing achievement at just 16 years old and it’s just really cool.
“I’m nervous and excited, a bit of both, but more excited because it’s my first senior championships and I don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be really good but I am a little bit nervous as well.
“Hopefully I can get into the top 10 which would be really, really good. And to get PBs really. That’s what I want.
“I can’t wait to get on that platform and show them how to lift!”