Taylor Turner of Saint Augustine, Fla., is a resident athlete in the Olympic Weightlifting program and competes in the 58 kg weight class. A sophomore at Northern Michigan University, Turner is an athletic training major.
During her first season with the NMU-OTS team, Turner finished second overall at the National Junior Championships. In that event, she also earned a gold medal in the snatch and a bronze in the clean and jerk.
Turner was also a member of the NMU women’s team that took first-place at the University National Championships this year. She is looking to build upon that success at the upcoming National Junior Championships Feb. 23-26 in Kansas City, Missouri. She will enter that event ranked No. 1 in the 58 kg junior division.
Taylor took a moment out of her training to discuss her rookie season and the expectations she has for this year.
You are one of the many Florida High school weightlifters to be a part of the OTS program’s history. Personally, how was transferring from high school weightlifting to Olympic-Style weightlifting?
Turner- Transferring to Olympic lifting from high school lifting was a big change. I did not know what to expect. To start, in high school we did bench press instead of snatch so I had to learn a completely different lift and the atmosphere of the meets are completely different. I still don’t think I’m completely accustomed to it. I am definitely not used to only two or three platforms running at a time. It was a fun and challenging change but I wouldn’t say it was difficult.
With being in the sport of Olympic weightlifting for only a year, does it feel overwhelming at times with such success of competing at a high level nationally in the Junior Division?
Turner- I would not say it’s overwhelming. I just try to focus on myself. I train to better myself not to better my chances of placing high. I know it starts with me, and if I were to let it get to me I may not perform as well as I could.
You have competed in Gymnastics, Softball, High School Weightlifting (Bench/Clean and Jerk) and Olympic Weightlifting. Was becoming an Olympic Weightlifter always your dream?
Turner- I did not even know what Olympic Weightlifting was until my junior year of high school. I just knew I wanted to do something in college because I have been competing in a sport since I was four. When faced with the option to play softball or Olympic lifting in college, I decided to choose lifting because I wanted to try something new.
Who has seemed to be your idol in the sport of lifting since you have started Olympic Weightlifting?
Turner- I actually don’t look up to any lifters. Starting out in the sport, I was so focused on my personal goals and how well I personally could become. I still have the same mentality a year later and feel it helps me stay focused on the task at hand and not get carried away.
If someone were to ask who Taylor Turner was, how would you answer that question?
Turner- If someone asked me who Taylor Turner was, I would simply reply a girl with goals. I don’t just have goals in the weightlifting world. I know there is life after lifting and I have goals set for life as well.
With a second place finish at last year’s Junior Nationals, do you feel any pressure to return to the platform and win gold this time around?
Turner- I wouldn’t say I feel pressure, but I do have somewhat of high expectations. My competition is no joke, as they all are very experienced on the national and international stage. I am staying focused on what I have to do in order to break my personal records and make my lifts. At this Junior Nationals, I plan to leave everything on the platform and I trust my training and coaching from coach Vance Newgard will result in an even better outcome than the previous year.
It is a known fact throughout the NMU-OTS program that you go Sky diving regularly. For most, fear of heights is normal. What seems to be Taylor Turners fear if there is one?
Turner- I would hate to be stuck in a confined space. I guess you could say I’m claustrophobic. Other than that, I don’t really have any other fears. I will try something at least once and then I decide if I like it or not. Whether it be skydiving or weightlifting, I stay calm and see no point of wasting any energy on being afraid. I believe fear can be controlled and I don’t let it stop me from doing anything I feel I can achieve.
Taylor will be competing at the 2017 Junior National Championships Feb. 23-26 held in Kansas City, Missouri.