MERRIAM, Kan. – A pint-sized powerhouse is spending the summer in the gym instead of at the pool. But Abby Flickner knows that’s where she needs to be if she wants to make it to the Olympics in 2020.
When you first see the soon to be fourth grader, you probably think gymnast. You’re kind of right, she used to be one. Now, she’s a weightlifter. And, she’s good at what she does, finishing well in a recent national competition.
“I got second in 11 and under, 3rd in 13 and under,” said Flickner.
What the modest athlete didn’t tell you, she’s 9 years old. So the second and third place finishes were against others two to four years older than her. They don’t have a division for her age group, so she competes against the older kids.
It’s a feat that thrills her coach and makes him proud.
“This child, because of the summertime, work out twice a day. She work out in the morning, two hours, she work out in the evening two hours, she come in everyday,” said Boris Urman, her weightlifting coach.
Urman is a unique coach. He’s loud and animated, but caring and comitted to his kids. The native of the former Soviet Union has a thick Russian accent and is hard to understand at times. His athletes don’t have any trouble — they just watch for his body language and inflection.
Urman says his team performed well at a recent national competition in St. Joseph, Mo. Members brought home individual national titles and everyone set new personal records.
He says training is the key, but it’s not just physical –kids have to have mental awareness, too.
“You don’t see the Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the big muscles, no no no, it doesn’t work, world champion is skin and thin, because of good coordination, speed explosive, focus, good focus.”
Nine-year-old Abby has the focus, as does the rest of Club Boris, which is why they compete and win. Someday in the future, it could be for the United States in the Olympics. Until then, Coach Boris will continue to bark orders in his broken English and praise his athletes for their hard work.