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Road to Rio: Jenny Arthur 'still learning' as she prepares for weightlifting's largest stage
Jenny Arthur (right) with Flowery Branch’s Ellen Kercher, an aspiring lifter under the school’s former strength coach C.J. Stockel, who made the move after graduation with Arthur to train in Colorado.

Chestatee High graduate Jenny Arthur is on her way to the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she will compete as a weightlifter for Team USA.

In 2012, Arthur was selected to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., so she held off going to college and moved from Gainesville to Colorado to train with the nation’s top athletes.

Even with the distinction of being selected to train in Colorado Springs, it wasn’t until after the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials that weightlifting truly clicked for Arthur.

“I think I realized my potential in the sport after competing there,” she said.

Arthur was the only high school student competing in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials held in March. While there, she set the Junior American clean and jerk record with a successful lift of 115 kilograms.

The Chestatee student finished eighth overall, missing out on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but Arthur was finally able to see the potential in herself that others had seen for years.

Since those 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Arthur has gone on to win a silver medal at the 2013 Junior World Championships as well as the 2013 Pan American Championships. She took home the gold medal at the 2013 Pan American Junior Championships in the 75 kg division and another silver in the 2014 Pan American Championships.

Arthur earned her spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team by earning the most points in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. In 2015, Arthur set the current U.S. Women’s clean and jerk record (138 kilograms) and overall record (244 kilograms).

“She’s just so strong and explosive,” said Stan Luttrell, who was the football coach and weightlifting teacher at Chestatee where he coached Arthur. “It took time for her to develop, and she’s still developing.”

A scary thought for her competitors that this 22-year-old has not yet reached her peak.

“I’m still learning how to get better,” Arthur said.

At such a young age, Arthur is primed for a shot at multiple Olympic berths. Her Team USA teammates, Sarah Robles and Morghan King are 28 and 30 years old, respectively. According to Luttrell, it couldn’t happen to a better person.

“If Jenny Arthur walks into the room, your day just got better,” Luttrell said. “Combine that with her competitive spirit, and it’s no wonder she’s done so well.

“We are all very proud of her.”

Arthur’s Olympics will start and finish on August 12 in the Women’s 75 kg competition. On that date, all of the mornings spent in the weight room, the travels to Colorado Springs, all of that will have been worth it for Arthur to step upon that Olympic stage.

“A lot of times we sacrifice our bodies too with the strenuous workouts,” Arthur said. “It’s a tough sport, so I wanted to give everything I had and everything I needed to give to make this dream possible.”

Arthur has always been a gifted athlete. As a multi-sport athlete at Chestatee High, her primary focus was on softball and track and field. Weightlifting was never meant to anything more than a training tool, but things don’t always go according to plan.

“It was a lot of fun at first,” Arthur, 22, said. “I was interested and wanted to learn more.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Arthur continued to weightlift and others started to notice.

Luttrell along with C.J. Stockel, a Flowery Branch resident and chairman of the board with USA Weightlifting, realized during Arthur’s junior year that she had the potential to go far in the sport if she continued to apply herself.
Arthur did just that.

During the second half of her junior year, Arthur started to focus solely on weightlifting. By her senior year, it was all weightlifting. No more softball or track.

What was meant to be a hobby has turned into a career, and now Arthur is headed to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics to lift on the world’s largest stage.

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