NP's Giorgi wraps up 2020 with second-place finish at nationals

NP's Giorgi wraps up 2020 with second-place finish at nationals

Ava Giorgi, left, and her coach, Jarred Smith, discuss their strategy during the USA Youth Weightlifting National Championships that was held virtually last month. Giorgi, who did her lifts at the Providence Barbell Club, took second place in the ages 14-15, 49-kilogram division.
Competing in virtual competition, Ricci weightlifter excels in new age category

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Ava Giorgi won three gold medals at the 2019 USA Youth Weightlifting National Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich., and when the calendar turned to 2020, the Ricci Middle School 8th-grader flipped it to June and circled in the middle of that page a return trip to that tournament.

Of course, that trip never took flight because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither did the one during the first weekend of December, which saw the tournament’s directors not only change its date, but also its location, from Winston Salem, N.C., to Atlanta.

“We were all set to attend with travel arrangements booked when it was changed to a virtual meet two weeks prior to the date,” reported Julie Giorgi, Ava’s mother. “Luckily, Ava had competed in two virtual meets at the Providence Barbell Club prior, so she was prepared for what to expect.”

Moving up an age division (ages 14-15) and a weight class (49 kilograms), Giorgi took runner-up honors in her pursuit of the national championship, which was won by Indiana’s Jaycee Mann, as Giorgi finished second in the Snatch, Clean and Jerk, and Total categories.

“Placing second this year was an incredible feeling,” noted Giorgi. “2020 was a year imaginably different from others. There were many obstacles along the way, including training from home, maintaining my weight for a new weight class, and COVID-19 canceled travel plans for Nationals.

“However, placing second at Nationals was all I could have asked for,” she continued. “The experience was quite different from others. This time, the big stage and bright lights were missing, but overall, I had a wonderful experience.”

The North Providence resident, who is also a member of Ricci’s girls’ cross country team, as well as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Cumberland-Lincoln’s Penguins youth swim squad, began Olympic weightlifting 3 1/2 years ago and has experienced a great deal of success in the sport in such a short time.

She had her sights set on putting together a productive 2020, but when the pandemic rocked the globe last March and eventually forced gyms across the nation to temporarily close their doors, Giorgi retreated to her family’s garage and continued lifting there, wondering if or when the nationals would take place.

“Her coach, Jarred Smith, continued to program for her,” added Julie Giorgi. “She would record her lifts and share them with her coach, and he would review them and text her his takeaways. The two of them never lost sight of their goal.”

Giorgi pursued that goal on Dec. 2 when she virtually competed against 13 other lifters nationwide, and she did so at an unusual time – 10:45 p.m. – because her group didn’t start lifting until 10 p.m. and complete their lifts almost two hours later.

“Lifting late was so hard!” she exclaimed. “All I wanted to do was eat. I went to school that day to pass time, and when I came home, I took a nap. I stretched and planned out all my meals for after the weigh-in while I watched some other friends of mine lift. But other than that, when (the competition) started, I just pretended like it was a regular old night time training session.”

“Ava did not find out her start time until 3:30 in the afternoon,” said Julie Giorgi. “When they made the announcement, she was doing a light lift session at the Providence Barbell Club, and she just laid on the ground with her hands over her head. Ava had never lifted at that hour, much less in a competition.”

Nevertheless, Giorgi went to work. In the Snatch category, she delivered lifts of 53 and 56 kilograms, but was unable to produce a 58-kilogram lift, and in the Clean and Jerk category, she went 3-for-3, with lifts of 64, 67, and 70 kilograms.

Unfortunately for Giorgi, she wasn’t the only lifter in the 70-kilogram club. Mann delivered a 74-kilogram lift on her final attempt, which not only placed her first in that category, but also sewed up the national championship, her second in the last three years.

“(Mann) surprisingly missed her first two attempts, leaving the possibility of Ava being crowned national champion,” said Julie Giorgi, who along with her husband, James, watched the competition online, and did not accompany Ava at the Barbell Club. “But she gathered herself enough to make her last attempt.”

With the national competition and her runner-up finish in the books, what are Giorgi’s plans for 2021?

“The upcoming year will be interesting for lifting competitions,” answered Julie Giorgi. “She always lifts in Connecticut in January and then at RWL (Robinson Weight Lifting in Franklin, Mass.) in May, but no meets have been announced. She already qualified for Nationals (from June 25-July 4) in Detroit.”

Giorgi does a workout lift in front of a camera that is connected to a laptop displaying the results of the competition.