BELLWOOD, Pa. (WTAJ) — Gracie Rice looks like your average high school girl, but you don’t want to mess with her. The Bellwood-Antis sophomore will be the first Blair County athlete to represent Team USA internationally in Olympic Weightlifting when she competes in the International Youth World Championships next month in Albania.

“I’m super excited and I’m very excited to be able to compete internationally because obviously some of the best lifters are going to be there and to just be able to train and compete with them. It’s it’s an honor,” said Rice.

When she won Nationals back in June, she saw the potential to qualify for an international competition. That led to her upcoming journey in Albania where the lifts she will be performing aren’t easy. They’re called the snatch and the clean and jerk.

“It’s from the ground in your head. So there are times where we’ll do calls like this before we do the snatch or an overhead squat, which is just like from here in a squat,” said Rice. “And then for clean, sometimes we’ll do like today we’re doing pull to knee, which is just from the ground up to your knee, and then we’ll do it quickly and then our jerk.”

Rice is one of nine youth female weightlifters that will be competing. What may be even more impressive is she’s only been weightlifting since 2019, which the help of her uncle as her coach.

“She’s a naturally gifted, supernaturally gifted, she’s super strong, but her work ethic is really good too. So she’s she trained 6 times a week, usually two, two and a half hours a day and she’s coachable,” said Fred Dorman, Rice’s uncle and coach. “So that’s one of the biggest things is that she actually listens to her coach and her uncle. So sometimes that’s a little challenge could be challenging, but she she does a really good job of that.”

Rice’s ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics and this competition is a critical step in that journey.