child deadlifting
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 26, 2024 ·  4 min read

‘Strongest Seven-Year-Old Girl In The World’ Can Deadlift 80kg

Move over, Pippy Longstocking, there’s a new strong girl in town. Meet Rory van Ulft, the strongest 7-year-old in the world. (1)

The Strongest 7-Year-Old in the World

Rory van Ulft is a 7-year-old gymnast from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. At just four feet tall, this little girl is the definition of tiny-but-mighty. Having competed in the US National Weightlifting Championships, she is the youngest youth national champion in history and the strongest under-11 lifter in relation to body weight in the country. (1)

Image Credit: Rory van Ulft | Instagram

Her personal bests include (1):

  • 80kg (176lb) deadlift (using an Olympic women’s bar)
  • 32kg (74lb) snatch
  • 42kg (92lb) clean-and-jerk
  • 61kg (134lb) squat

“Based on her current Sinclair total, Rory is not only the strongest seven-year-old in the world. She is likely also the strongest seven-year-old girl or boy who has ever lived, for whom there are verifiable competition results.” says her father Cavan van Ulft. (1)

A Gymnast First

As you can imagine, Rory spends much of her time outside of school at either the gymnastics club or in the gym. She spends nine hours each week training gymnastics and four hours on weight lifting. (1)

Image Credit: Rory van Ulft | Instagram

“I started doing gymnastics, and then we noticed you could get really hurt from it. So I started doing this to help get stronger,” Rory explains. (2)

Safety Above All

It’s perfectly natural to be a bit alarmed at first when you hear the heavy weights that Rory lifts. After all, she is still a growing, developing child. Her mother, Lindsay, was concerned at first, too.

“When she first started, I hated it. It was so scary watching [her] lift those heavy, heavy things that I could barely lift,” she said. “Now I look at her and I just think, ‘I am so proud of you!’ She’s really cool and she can do amazing things.” (2)

Image Credit: Rory van Ulft | Instagram
  • Gymnastics coach
  • Weightlifting coach
  • Family doctor
  • Sports medicine pediatrician

For all of those people, her safety and regular growth and development are the most important thing. (1)

Image Credit: Rory van Ulft | Instagram

Experts agree that youth weightlifting is safe, provided it is done properly and with capable coaches and trainers at the helm. (2)

“There actually isn’t much evidence to suggest that it is inherently risky — despite the fact it does kind of feel like it sort of should be,” says pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sasha Carsen. “That culture has to be one where they’re listening to the kids. One where they appreciate that the musculoskeletal health and wellness of an eight-year old is quite a bit different than an 18-year-old.” (2)

Rory’s coach Greg Chin agrees. His philosophy is that even one injury in a child is too many. For this reason, he focuses her training plan on perfecting technique, not on lifting really heavy weights. (2)

“for a child Rory’s age, we never load her with what we would consider to be maximum weights.” he says. (2)

The Strongest 7-Year-Old: Life Lessons at the Gym

The biggest benefit to Rory’s training and competing are the lessons she learns in training and the confidence it has given her. The other female weightlifters at her gym are incredible role models for her, teaching her that women are just as capable as men, and that strong is beautiful. (2)

“They’re so strong, and they are here to make themselves strong, and to show that they can do whatever anybody else can do. And they are so good to Rory,” says Lindsay. “It’s given her so much confidence, and she’s got so much poise.” (2)

6-year-old weightlifter Rory van Ulft and Coach Spencer Moorman celebrate after the gold medal-clinching lift at the Youth and Junior Championships.
Photo by Michael Fayehun for @f10sports
Image Credit: Rory van Ulft | Instagram

The most important thing, however, is that Rory loves doing it.

“I like getting stronger. Being stronger lets me do more and get better at everything I try,” she says. “I don’t think about what came before, or what will come after. I don’t think about anything. I just clear my mind and do it.” (1)

You can follow along with Rory and her athletic journey on her Instagram page that is run by her parents.

We can’t wait to see what this little powerhouse does next!

Keep Reading: Woman Shares Photos of Amazingly Large and Majestic Maine Coon Cat


  1. ‘Strongest Seven-Year-Old Girl In The World’ Can Deadlift 80kg.” LadBible. Rebecca Shepherd. December 9, 2020.
  2. Technique key to keeping 6-year-old weightlifter safe.” CBC. Trevor Pritchard. August 29, 2019.
  3. roryvanulft.” Instagram.