Weightlifting wasn’t always meant to become the main sport for Achante Daniels. As part of the track team, Daniels’ coach wanted her athletes to get into weightlifting to put on some muscle. Instead, Daniels became one of Ocoee High’s best lifters. She’s coming into the season having won districts, metro and regionals — and earning a trip to state — last year.
How did you first get into weightlifting?
My sophomore year, I was running track and my coach wanted us to have more muscle on us, because we were just running. I did it just for fun and I competed in a couple meets, so that’s how I got into it.
What’s your favorite part about being on the team?
Just getting lifts that you thought you couldn’t get before. I think it is pretty cool that you put on muscle and then get a lift.
What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since you first started?
My mental (fortitude). I’m more mentally tough.
What is the most challenging part about weightlifting?
The mental (part). If you think that you can’t get a lift, most likely, you won’t get it. It’s just you have to be prepared in your mind to get it, or you won’t get it at all.
When you first started weightlifting, did you know what you had to do?
No, I just did it. Track was my first baby — my passion — so I was just there to get stronger for track.
As far as preparing for a meet, what is your routine?
I make sure that I’m all stretched out, not as tight and I get my mind ready like I said in the mornings. And just throughout the day make sure I get my mind ready, because I have something to do, so I have to make sure I’m mentally tough.
Has there been a highlight moment for you during your time at Ocoee?
Regionals. I didn’t expect to get that far — like district champ, metro champ and then regional champ. Like, I was just continuing and continuing. And when I made it to states last year, I was really proud of that.
What are the best words of advice you’ve been given when it comes to weightlifting?
Just get my mind (right) mentally, because there are some lifts that I could get during practice, because I’m mentally tough. And then when I go to competition, I just don’t get them because I’m scared or I’m just not there mentally. So when my coach says, “Make sure you get your mind ready” and all of this stuff, it really helps. That’s the difference in my competitions that I see.
When you’re not lifting and doing school work, what do you like doing in your spare time?
Listen to music and watch TV.