Looking at Anna Knapski today, it is hard to imagine that she was once a victim of bullying.
Only 21, she is already a two-time powerlifting world record holder, an Olympic hopeful, a champion shot-putter and an all-rounded track and field competitor who can both run and throw with aplomb.
Yet, when Knapski of Canton, Ohio, was in middle school, she was bullied incessantly for being overweight, Fox News reports.
Her mother, Sandy Knapski, remembers her daughter, who was 275 pounds at the time, coming home in tears — dejected and desperate.
“You can see the sad and you want to fix that,” she told Fox News. ”You can see people being rude and you want to fix that too.”
With her mother’s support and the help of a trainer, Knapski started on a balanced exercise plan and diet. By the time she was in the ninth grade, Knapski had lost 100 pounds, and had started lifting weights and running track. In her senior year, she was among the best female shot putters in Ohio.
Then in November 2010, Knapski set a world record in the woman’s dead lift for teen women, lifting a bar with 369.2 pounds. A year later, she broke her own world record,setting a new one of 408.8 pounds, Fox News reports.
Sandy said that she hopes her daughter – whose dream is to represent the United States in the hammer throw at the Olympics – will be an inspiration to other victims of bullying.
As for Knapski, she says that she has learned to accept herself for who she is and to never give up.
“Don’t ever say you can’t, because you can,” said Knapski.