From his homemade garage gym off T.C. Walker Road, Ryker Sharp tightens his weight belt and begins loading 45-pound plates on the barbell. The amateur powerlifter can deadlift almost 500 pounds and weighs in himself at an imposing 290. He is just 15 years old.
Sharp has been in a gym regularly since he was 13 and began powerlifting last year. He doesn’t have a driver’s license yet and is already expected to break four Virginia amateur powerlifting records in his next competition.
“I started to love lifting while playing football,” Sharp recalls. “I like being able to challenge myself and I’m not a big fan of team sports because I can focus on just setting my own records and not worrying about anyone else.”
His maxes, the most weight he can do for a particular lift in a single rep, are all high enough to break current Virginia records for amateurs in his age and weight class. In the core lifts of deadlift, bench press and squat, Sharp has log...
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