BRADEN RIVER — As he strolled through the halls of Braden River High one morning last week, Ryan Borges couldn’t help but revel in all of the attention.
Fellow classmates stopped to pat him on the back or slap a high five, while Braden River teachers offered handshakes and congratulations of their own. During the past three months, the sophomore has become sort of a school celebrity. And it’s easy to see why.
After earning a bronze medal in the 20-and-under age category and finishing in the top nine of all weight classes in the 17-and-under age category at the Junior Nationals this past February in San Francisco, Borges was selected to represent Team USA at the Youth World Championships in Thailand May 19-24.
“They all think it’s awesome, and everyone seems pretty excited for me,” Borges said.
Borges left for Thailand May 15 and will begin competing in the clean and jerk and the snatch competitions May 21. Borges’ personal best is 118 kilograms in the clean and jerk and 94 kilograms in the snatch — a move in which the lifter takes the bar from the floor up over his or her head in one motion.
“Everyone is basically better at the clean and jerk because it involves two movements,” Borges said. “In the snatch, technique-wise, you have to be just about perfect every time to make it right on the spot.”
Borges began lifting weights almost five years ago. He began lifting regularly at Gold’s Gym with his father, Rui, when one of the gym’s employees noticed that the then 12-year-old Borges was lifting a decent amount of weight for his age.
The employee introduced Borges to Rich Lansky, owner of Team Florida Gulf Coast Weightlifting at Optimum Performance Training in Sarasota. From then on, Borges immersed himself in the sport. He began training five or six times a week for one to two-and-one-half hours a day and started competing shortly thereafter, winning his first national meet. In 2006, Borges won a silver medal at the School Age National Championships and a bronze medal in 15 and under at the 2007 Pan American Championships, among other accolades.
But of all his accomplishments, nothing has been more satisfying than qualifying for the Youth World Championships — a feat he didn’t know he had accomplished until his coach approached him more than a week after the competition.
“I was really happy because I didn’t expect it,” Borges said. “I’m looking forward to just actually getting to represent the country and the just the joy of hearing my name called.
“The most important thing now is just making sure to make whatever weight is put on the bar,” he added. “I just want to go out there and make every lift that I have.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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