“Weightlifting has taught me a lot in life and has turned me into the person I am today.” – D’Angelo Osorio

I started weightlifting because I saw a group of guys in my old gym throwing weights over their heads and I thought it looked cool. After watching a view YouTube videos on the classic lifts, I was hooked.

At first, there was a linear progression with my lifts. Each week, I would get stronger and stronger.

I even remember calculating that at the rate that I was currently progressing, I could “in-theory” be a world-class lifter in a few years – LOL!

I was very wrong. I suck at weightlifting. I am not competitively strong by any standards, and my technique always needs work. As a hobby, it’s challenging, grueling, and unforgiving. But that’s why I like it.

It’s therapeutic to come into the gym focused and determined. Somedays I win the fight against gravity, and other days I lose. Big time.

I also have to remember that I’ve only been lifting for 3 years. In the grand scheme of things, that’s incredibly short. I have a long way to go, and I don’t plan on quitting the sport any time soon.

Along with teaching me life lessons about determination, motivation and pushing past my limits, Weightlifting has also introduced me to some really cool people. One person in particular has been lifting 3 times longer than I have, and is literally twice as strong as I am.

I met D’Angelo Osorio while I was lifting with the Lift6for6 barbell club in Mountain View, CA (If you’re in the bay area and interested in Olympic Weightlifting, check them out). At first, I was intimidated to introduce myself because I had been following him since I first started weightlifting 3 years ago.

I followed him on Instagram because his lifts are big, his technique is nice, he’s from the SF Bay Area and he is Filipino. While I was in Boston, there weren’t a lot of Filipino weightlifters, so it was a sense of cultural pride watching him lift heavy shit.

Retrospectively, it was silly to be intimidated, because D’Angelo is a really cool dude! In fact, he was cool enough to do an interview for the blog! In the interview, you’ll get to know more about D’Angelo – his fondest memories of weightlifting, his biggest failures and some big goals he’s aiming to achieve.

D’Angelo started weightlifting at the age of 15. He was introduced to the sport in 2008 during a football camp. During his first competition he competed as a 77 kg (169 lbs) lifter – for reference, during his last competition D’Angelo weighed in at 102 kg (225 lbs) – and earned a silver medal at the 2008 School Age Championships.

In 2012, D’Angelo committed to weightlifting full time. He was invited to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) at the age of 18. This was a huge step for his weightlifting career as he trained under the tutelage of weightlifting Hall of Famer, Zygmunt Smalcerz . When asked about how he decided to make lift full time he said:

I accepted the offer within seconds, I was so excited because I’d be living on my own for a couple of years since I hadn’t experienced that part in my life yet. So it was a perfect opportunity for me to do so.

At the OTC, D’Angelo had the pleasure of training with some of the other best weightlifters in the US. Here’s how D’Angelo talks about the training environment there:

Honestly, the training environment was by far the best. I’ll never find an environment like that ever again. The sports medicine also caught my attention as well since all of us train 9x a week so we needed all the recovery we could get.

He goes on to explain who he trained with and what it was like:

Training with guys like Colin Burns, Norik Vardanian, Donovan Ford and Alex Lee was the craziest thing. There was so much energy between all of them. They all taught me so much and especially to enjoy my training sessions.

I like how D’Angelo had to learn to enjoy training sessions. Like any full-time commitment, sometimes your practice is not enjoyable. Even for someone in an ideal environment, the repetition and work can be mentally straining.

By many standards, D’Angelo is an accomplished weightlifter. He’s won medals at Junior National (Under 20 years old), Senior Nationals, and a gold at the American Open. D’Angelo has competed at the highest level nationally and on multiple occasions he has lifted on an international stage. Currently, D’Angelo is the 2017 Senior National Champion in the 105 kg weight class. When D’Angelo compared competing nationally versus internationally, he said:

Competing on an international stage is a complete different feeling in comparison to USAW’s national events. It is definitely more enjoyable to me personally to be able to compete with someone from across the world and knowing that you and that person share the same passion and share the same goals.

In fact, D’Angelo’s favorite weightlifting memory is from competing on a big, international stage. He states:

A favorite memory on the big stage was in three years ago at the 2014 Pan American Championship in Santo Domingo, DR where i received my very first senior international medals as a 94kg lifter. My second memory was a couple months ago at the 2017 Pan American Championships held in Miami, FL. Although it didn’t go as planned I made the best of everything and out it all on the platform for my clean and jerks to win my first gold medal.

One not so fun nor fond memory was D’Angelo’s biggest failure as a weightlifter. Prior to the 2016 Olympics, D’Angelo had his sights set on representing USA as a weightlifter. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out as such. Here’s what D’Angelo had to say about his biggest failure as a weightlifter:

My biggest failure in this sport had to be the 2016 Olympic Trials last year. It was so emotional and scary just being able to participate in that event. I felt like I failed because I was dealing with wrist injury at the time so I wasn’t able to put on the big performance that I wanted to.

Successful people are resilient and persistent. When they experience failure, they accept it, learn from it and keep moving forward. That’s exactly what D’Angelo intends to do. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in sight, he has his short term goals lined up.

Short term goals would be to make as many teams as possible and win nationals events.

Successful people are also wise enough to recognize the obstacles in their path. Sometimes it’s an external factor, and other times it’s themselves. When asked about his biggest obstacle, D’Angelo revealed this:

Other obstacles that I’ve had to deal with and still dealing with [to] this day [are] MYSELF and my minor back injury.

D’Angelo was scheduled to compete in the USAW American Open series in December 2017, but wisely withdrew because he was not 100% healthy. He felt that his back would be more of a liability than an asset.

As a competitor, I can imagine this was a tough decision. However, D’Angelo is in this for the long haul. Risking injury is not an option. In fact, D’Angelo has a very big goal that he wants to attain. It would solidify his legacy in American Weightlifting. D’Angelo said:

I’m looking to break the clean and jerk AR [American Record] which is 220 kg (485 lbs) currently held by Wes Barnett.

After setting a local regional record with a 215 kg (474 lbs) clean and jerk (This is more than my total for both the snatch and clean jerk lol), the American Record is well within reach.

While you would think that a tenured, accomplished lifter with record-breaking potential does not get nervous before a lift, but it’s quite the opposite. There are so many things that you could do right, and still have everything go wrong.

Yes! In all the years I’ve been lifting I’m always nervous for the first attempt, but after that it’s all fun and games from there.

As serious as weightlifting is for someone like D’Angelo, he continues to do the sport because he loves it and he has fun lifting heavy shit. I believe each athlete, professional, and person draws insight from things they do on a daily basis. D’Angelo credits weightlifitng to shaping who is he is today. He said:

Weightlifting has taught me a lot in life and has turned me into the person I am today. Honestly I don’t know where I’d be in life if it wasn’t for this sport. It’s taught me to be a more respectful/mature and tougher person.

When asked about how weightlifting has shaped him mentally, he said:

Lifting has definitely helped my mentality in the long [haul]. Honestly, it does have its ups and downs for sure but that’s just how the sport is, it can break you down mentally and physically.

As a weighlifter myself, the struggle is real.

D’Angelo trains 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, and is going to school full time in pursuit of a degree in Mechanical Engineering. By lifting 6 days a week, he’s exemplifying a principle of success that I’ve read about in biographies and interviews. He’s working almost every single day towards that American Record and Olympic Dream.

He has no plans to slow down and with his vision set on his goals, he will continue to achieve his dream, Kilo by Kilo.

A HUGE thanks to D’Angelo for letting me interview him for the blog. I’m passionate about highlighting how others are working towards their goals and how their navigating through their journey to success.

To watch D’Angelo move big weights, follow him on Instagram @Dangelo_Osorio!

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