Perhaps it runs in the family.
In their days at Olympia High, both Samantha and Victoria Jefferson were standouts for the Titans weightlifting team.
And that was only the beginning.
Since then, both sisters have gone on to thrive in the sport. Most recently, Samantha Jefferson, an Ocoee resident, won the National Junior title in the 90kg weight class at the National Championships for Powerlifters March 30 in Chicago, where she deadlifted more than 500 pounds.
“If I’m being truthful, no craziness, I didn’t feel anything, and I think that’s a good thing,” Jefferson said of the feat. “I think as myself as a really humble person.”
Not to be outdone, Victoria Jefferson won the 2021 State Championships and the 2021 National University Championships. She also won the American Open Series last year.
Today, both train at Rise Athletics in Winter Garden. Moreover, they’re both doing it for the right reasons.
“They are both very intrinsically driven,” Rise Athletics owner Mark Roberts said. “It’s a lot less about the external reward and the external validation of other people. It’s more of the validation of their own hard work and the ability to see something through to fruition.”
During the National Championships for Powerlifters, Samantha Jefferson felt the nerves. But at the same time, she found success by focusing on the task at hand.
“My first (lift) was the bench press, and the pause was extremely long,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to be that long, and I feel that’s a factor on actually getting my bench presses. So now every time I practice, my pauses are 10 seconds minimum. I’m like, if that was difficult, then let me do that in training so I can get better on that.”
Last year, Samantha Jefferson competed at the Sunshine State Games for Powerlifting and the Florida State Championships. She won first in both competitions and was named best female lifter. She also competed at the Florida Collegiate Championships, where she won best collegiate athlete and was awarded the best female lifter.
Now, Samantha Jefferson plans on working on her cardio respiratory resistance and muscle endurance. However, she is considering the possibility of attending the Strongman Competition, to which she was offered an invitation. She is also considering attending the Junior Nationals competition.
“That’s a whole other deal,” she said. “Personally, I am working on physically getting better, and then the more physically better I am, the better I can perform.”
Currently, Samantha Jefferson is attending Valencia College, where she is studying kinesiology. She recently contacted the University of Texas and Louisiana State University to inquire whether those universities offer scholarships on powerlifting. If that’s not the case, she plans to transfer to the University of Central Florida.
As a high-schooler, Victoria Jefferson benched 305 pounds. Now 24, she’s still captivated by the sport — and the endless challenge it offers.
“Weightlifting is something that you learn to love,” she said. “It’s like being married, because you have to be consistent, dedicated, disciplined, is something that you want to do… It’s a giving of self where you learn to love and you learn to fall in love for.”
Victoria Jefferson has been pursuing a career as a weightlifter for four years. She joined USA Weightlifting when she was only 19 years old.
Soon after graduation, Victoria Jefferson received a letter from her old weightlifting coach with an invitation from the former CEO of USA Weightlifting Phil Andrews.
“Specifically in the letter, he said he wrote to a few more girls trying to get them to the Olympics,” she said. “So basically (he was) screening me and my potentiality for the Olympics.”
That next year, Victoria Jefferson started training with coach Danny Camargo at Open Concept. But early into training, she tore the labrum in her right shoulder. She underwent surgery a little more than two years ago. During her recovery, Samantha Jefferson told her about Roberts, who offers rehabilitation classes.
Following rehab, Victoria Jefferson won the 2021 State Championships and the 2021 National University Championships. She also won the American Open Series last year.
Currently, Victoria Jefferson is focused solely on weightlifting. However, she plans on going back to school to study health administration online at the University of Central Florida. She said she would love to obtain an LPN Practical Nursing Diploma before attending nursing school.
Victoria Jefferson will compete at the 2022 States Championships May 20-22 and the USA Weightlifting Nationals June 25 through July 3.