At the age of 16, Yorkshire lass Rebekah Tiler has a firm ambition in life…a medal at the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.
Rebekah has earned a name for herself in weightlifting – widely regarded as one to watch – and is training hard to qualify for next year’s games in Brazil.
Her amazing strength has won her an impressive string of British, European and Commonwealth titles, yet surprisingly it all started when she was training to be a sprinter.
The Keighley teenager, who has recently moved to Todmorden with her sports-keen family, was at a performance centre training session to improve her speed when her significant strength was noticed by a weightlifting coach.
The coach suggested Rebekah should try weightlifting, she took up the suggestion, and soon afterwards the records began to tumble and titles came her way.
In 2013 alone, at just 13, she became Commonwealth Youth and Junior Champion, European Youth Champion and European Record Holder.
When she was just 14 she set new European Under-15 records in both the snatch and clean and jerk categories as she secured three gold medals in the over 63kg category at the championships in Klaipeda, Lithuania.
Last year, she blew expectations away when she won the British Senior Weightlifting Championships, claiming the record as the youngest athlete to win a British Seniors Championship.
Rebekah has broken a total of 47 British records ranging from Under-23 to Under-14, and is the English senior record holder. She also became the youngest weightlifter to win a senior women’s British title as she took gold in 69kg class in Coventry this year.
Competing in the 69kg bodyweight category, Rebekah is the youngest female athlete ranked in the world top 10. Positioned 5th, she is on par with athletes some three years older than herself. Ultimately all pathways are leading to Rio 2016 with Rebekah’s sights set firmly on adding ‘Olympic Champion’ to her list of titles.
And no-one is more supportive of her efforts than mum and dad Emma and Chris -“Dad used to do weight training and bodybuilding, and mum used to be a high-jumper” – and her sisters Sophie, 12, and Lisa 10, who have followed Rebekah into the sport and are already champions in their own right.
Rebekah Tiler won gold on the 9th September at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games
Rebekah had to fit in her intensive training routine with her studies at Bingley Grammar School, which she has now left to attend college. She would train for 10 hours each week at her gym at Mytholmroyd Community Centre, and has now stepped up the training to two sessions a day.
“I train every weekday, and at weekends I’m usually competing, so there isn’t a break,” she says. “2015 has been an incredible year for me and I am training harder than ever in preparation for the Olympics. I am looking forward to my remaining competitions this year and I’m determined to make my mark on the world stage in Rio 2016.”
Rebekah amazed her pals at school with her strength – lads would challenge her to arm wrestling but never got the better of her. “The school was always very supportive and my friends thought it was brilliant. Some of them wanted to take up weightlifting, too.”
She doesn’t have much leisure time. “I like spending time with my family and friends…just normal girly stuff.”
‘Normal’ teenage fast food is off the menu for Rebekah. She says: “Nutrition is massively important to me – what you put in your body can make a big difference to performance and I know that I’m going forward to the Olympics with amazing support.”
She is sponsored by Herbalife for nutritional support to help fuel her muscles and ensure effective recovery. “I believe that with the amazing support I have from my family, my coach and my sponsor, Herbalife, I can become even stronger and excel in my forthcoming competitions. I’m in a great place physically and am prepared to give 100%to help me get to the Olympics. I’m really excited about the future.”