Youth World Champion Nicholson Wins Gold, Breaks Records in Albania

by USA Weightlifting

In a stunning display of athleticism, 16-year-old Ella Nicholson of Team USA re-wrote the record books and became Youth World Champion at this year's International Weightlifting Federation Youth World Championships.

The competition, which took place March 25-April 1 in Durres, Albania, featured the world's best youth weightlifting athletes. But it was Nicholson who stole the show in the women’s 76kg category, setting new records and dominating her competition. Her 101kg snatch, 121kg clean & jerk, and 222kg total all set new youth American and youth Pan American records. 

"The whole experience still feels unreal," Nicholson told USA Weightlifting. "The whole time I had confidence in my training and my ability to hit the numbers that I had to."

Nicholson went a perfect 6-for-6, ultimately setting six Youth American and four Youth Pan American Records and claiming the Youth World Champion title. 

Her opening snatch of 95kg broke a record held by Athena Schrijver set back in 2018. Nicholson then broke her new record with a good 98kg snatch and set a new youth Pan Am record in the lift. She then set another new youth American and Pan American record in the snatch with a successful 101kg lift taking gold in the snatch.

In the clean & jerk, after making a 114kg opener, Nicholson set a new youth American record with a good 117kg lift, breaking Schrijver's 2018 American record in the clean & jerk. On her final attempt at 121kg, Nicholson broke the American record again and set a youth Pan Am record. The lift gave her silver in the clean & jerk. 

However total victory was not assured until clean & jerk gold medalist Rahama Elsayed of Egypt missed 102kg on her last attempt.

With her 222kg total, Nicholson earned new youth American and youth Pan American records in total and the Youth World Champion title in the 76kg bodyweight category.

Nicholson, who hails from Medina, Ohio, has been training for years to achieve this kind of success. Starting in CrossFit, her first USA Weightlifting national event was less than two years ago at the 2021 Nationals Week in Detroit, Michigan. Her dedication and hard work have paid off in a big way, with this win being the highlight of her career so far.

"I’m honored to be in this position, it is one of the most memorable things that I’ve done so far in my life and I know that this is just the beginning! I’m so excited to get back to training to further represent Team USA," Nicholson said. "I like weightlifting because it genuinely makes me happy and makes me feel good."

Nicholson is getting the celebrity treatment back home in Ohio. With features in the local newspaper, Cleveland television news, and even international recognition in the press, her achievement made her hometown proud. 

"Hard work pays off. That's the quote we use all the time," Nicholson's father Cliff said to the Medina Gazette. "She busts her butt, so it's great to see it all pay off. I couldn't be more proud."

With a bright future ahead of her, there's no doubt that Ella Nicholson will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of weightlifting. She also has a message for youth athletes looking to her as a role model.

“Make sure you’re having fun, enjoy your training, and stay healthy!”