Diana Yturbe is a really, really strong 14-year-old.
At just 136 pounds, she can deadlift 347 pounds. To put that in perspective: That’s about the weight of two beer kegs.
“Sometimes I look at myself and I'm like, I can't believe I [can] do this,” Diana, who lives in Parsippany, New Jersey, told InsideEdition.com.
Diana is a champion powerlifter who set four national records at the USA Youth Nationals Powerlifting Championship in Spokane, Washington, earlier this year, and has her sights set on the Olympics.
She started powerlifting when she was 12 and is the only one at her school who competes in the sport, which consists of three different moves: the squat, the deadlift and the bench press.Competitors get three tries at each lift and whoever has the highest total score from the judges on all three lifts wins.
Powerlifting wasn’t always Diana’s passion — she’s an avid softball and soccer player as well — but when some of the trainers at Pinnacle Athletic Development in Parsippany suggested she try it, she never looked back.
“The only thing I said to her was, ‘Just give me 100%,” her dad, Michael Yturbe, told InsideEdition.com.
She discovered she had a knack for it and began training with Coach Mike Tiano at the Whippany Athletic Club. She is “by far” his youngest client, he said. (His oldest is 73.) She trains with him once a week for two hours, with her dad there to watch the whole session.
Not everyone in Diana’s family was keen on her picking up the sport. Diana’s mom, Annmarie Yturbe, said she worried about how healthy powerlifting was for her young daughter’s changing body, and Diana herself was nervous at how her muscles might change from lifting heavy weights.
“I've never heard of powerlifting before and not for women at least,” Annmarie said. “As a girl, you're thinking, ‘Oh my gosh. All these weights and she's still young. Should she be doing this?’
“All you see is the big bulky guys on TV and that's what you know of it.”
But Annmarie soon changed her mind after watching Diana compete.
“When I went to the 2018 Youth Nationals, I realized that there were [more] girls compared to boys that were there. It made me feel better,” she said.
As for Diana’s friends, they’re all for it.
“They joke to me all the time about [how] we have a lot of stairs in school or ‘You shouldn't be tired from this.’ ‘Oh can you carry my backpack around school for me?’” said Diana.
In the beginning, Diana was lifting much lower weights. She squatted 200 pounds, bench pressed 110 pounds and deadlifted 259. Now, she’s up to 264-pound squats, can bench press 138 pounds and deadlift 347 pounds. To get to this point, her coach, Tiano, slowly increased the weights on the bar each week. Diana keeps track of her progress in a notebook and works to correct her form by watching videos of each movement she does during practice.
“The fact that she’s an athlete makes a major difference,” said Tiano. “She has better awareness of her body than people who simply lift.”
Diana’s always had an athletic mindset. At 2, her mom put her in Taekwondo classes. She not only plays tennis and takes swimming lessons, but she’s also on her school’s soccer, track and field, and softball teams.
“She’s very driven,” Michael said, wiping away tears.
He’s emotional enough for the both of them. Diana is not one to boast about her talent. Yes, she jumped up and down when she won her last powerlifting championship, her dad recalled, but she also didn’t speak above a whisper.
“She’s not a bragger. She’s just quiet,” he explained.
Soft-spoken, perhaps, but Diana has a gigantic heart. When her dad, who has a bad back, needed help changing smoke detector batteries, Diana did it without even being asked. The house needed power washing? Diana stepped in and climbed up on the ladder herself.
“She’s like, ‘Dad, I got this,’” said Michael. “‘We don’t need to hire nobody.’”
“She’s the kid you pray for,” added Annmarie.
As for Diana, she’s praying to one day be in the Olympics, but she hasn’t been training for that quite yet.
“They don't have powerlifting per se, but they do have weightlifting,” said Diana. “Hopefully one day, I'll get started into that and I'll be able to go.”
“When she's happy, I'm happy,” said Annmarie. “I'm proud of her. I tell her all the time.”