Ten-year-old Naomi Kutin is part of an elite group. Like tween skateboard master Tom Schaar, she's joined a tiny contingent of kids whose short biographies include the words "world record breaker."
But the New Jersey student often hailed as the "world's strongest girl," was surprised when her father first suggested she try powerlifting. At the time, she thought it was "something that only ... really really strong men could do," she says in a new interview with The Jewish Daily Forward.
Clearly, she was wrong. In the two years since the now 10-year-old started lifting, she's made headlines for her displays of record-breaking, age-defying strength.
In the Forward interview, Naomi and her parents, Ed and Neshama, discuss the 10-year-old's path to international powerlifting recognition -- and the challenges their Modern Orthodox Judaism can pose (perhaps most significantly: Naomi can't compete on the Sabbath, when many of her events are held).
Naomi's accolades are certainly impressive, but a parent's first question about all this might be: Is it safe? It's something Neshama has worried about ever since Naomi started, she says.
"We talked about a lot of it; we researched things; I called doctors. I mean, we're talking about an 8-year-old. I don't want her to get injured; I don't want her to be hurt. I don't want the possibility of that happening."
If Naomi ever decides she'd rather leave the lifting world behind, her parents will respect her decision. "If she decided today or tomorrow, 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" Neshama says, "it would be OK with us." For now, though, Naomi's set on following her powerlifting dreams. "It's not all about the records. It's just having fun."