Twelve-year-old Maryana Naumova soon hopes to find herself in the Guinness Book of Records as she has become the first girl under 15 to bench press an incredible 70 kilograms.
She has not even entered her teens, yet Maryana Naumova is already a sensation around the Russian powerlifting scene.
The fifth-grade schoolkid has already set almost a dozen world records in a sport that she took up completely by accident.
“I have been bench pressing since I was ten,” Maryana Naumova said. “I went with my dad to a competition and during a break I decided to try and lift the bar. It weighs 20 kilos and I managed to lift it four times. An expert saw this and said I should train as this is a rare feat.”
The striking thing about Maryana, who hits the scales herself at 48 kilos, is that no one would ever guess that someone so slight in build would be able to lift one-and-a-half times her own bodyweight.
However, size is not everything, as she is able to outlift girls who are much heavier, while she has been recognized as the world leader in the 15-and-under age group.
“There’s no secret behind my success. My father trains me, which I really like. The coaches are really good and some of the best around. They have trained a number of champions. I’m one of them and I think they play a big part in my development,” Maryana said.
Bench pressing is not an Olympic discipline at the moment, so Maryana does not receive any state funding.
One of her options is to change later to weightlifting. However, at such a young age, Naumova is content to keep her options open and her father Aleksandr, who was also a professional bench presser, says weightlifting has its pitfalls.
“Weightlifting puts a lot of stress on the spine and on the knees. A weightlifter can really look to compete until they are 25 to 30, because the injuries will take their toll. You don’t have these problems with bench pressing,” he said.
Maryana, who is extremely confident for a 12-year-old, still leads a relatively normally life. She attends school, though says the boys do pick on her, mainly out of jealousy, though she takes all this in her stride.
And she believes her amazing feats can be a message to everyone, that anything is possible, if one puts their mind to it.
“I’d like to be an example for both the kids and adults. That if they see me in the gym they’ll want to follow me,” she said.
Maryana has made some amazing achievements in her career so far. Her aims over the next year or so are to try and bench press in excess of 80 kilos.
Given her rapid success and dedication, one would not bet against her achieving this feat and setting yet more world records.