David Reeder

It’s been a couple of years or so since we first heard about the achievements of Kansas’s Haley Bird. Back then, she was barely out of elementary school and had just appeared on the Oklahoma power-lifting horizon.

Well, since that time this delightful 14 year old has set records in the Sooner Summer Games in Oklahoma City, the Wide World of Sports AAU Championships in Orlando and most recently at the Junior Olympics, this past July, in Detroit.

Competing in the 123 lbs division this summer, Bird, who weighs 119 lbs incredibly broke eight American records and eight World records.

Power lifting consists of three different types of lifts: the squat, the bench and dead lift.

In the Junior Olympic competition, Bird broke the American and World record with a lift of 270 lbs in the squat.  She then added another squat of 281 lbs. to break her own record.

In the bench event, she broke both the American and World records with a 148 lbs effort.

And in the dead lift she holds the American and World record at 270 lbs.

Little wonder that power lifting master champion Paul Wren described her as ”World class.”

Longtime coach and mentor, Jon Hanna went on to say about his charge, “We hope that power lifting will become a collegiate sport by the time she graduates from high school. If it does, with her grades and her work habits, she’d be a shoo-in for a Division 1 scholarship.”

Despite her obvious strength, this lovely teenager is by no means a one trick pony. Along with power lifting and her academic achievements, Haley is a member of the ultra competitive Durham’s Gymnastic Team and the Kansas Jr. High Basketball team.

On top of her basketball practice and weight training, Bird works out four nights a week, three hours a night with her gymnastic team in Springdale. Considering it takes an hour, each way, it doesn’t take a math major to figure out she’s spending 20 hours a week, every week, on her gymnastic regimen.

Bird is the only child of Wendy O’Leary and is quick to point out the sacrifices and effort that her mother has put into her activities saying, “My Mom is the backbone of all of this. Not only does she do all the driving and the waiting, but she sits through everything. In the Junior Olympics, like everything else, she was with me the whole time even the sunrise service.”

Although the diminutive champion is hesitant to talk too much about her achievements, Hanna is otherwise disposed adding, “It’s really important for people to understand that by gender, age and weight class, Haley is the strongest person alive. And she will be until someone comes to an event and beats her. That’s not likely because no one I’ve ever coached has had the willingness to sacrifice, the work ethic and the parental support that she does.”

As far as the future is concerned Haley will only commit to looking forward to taking Driver’s Ed in the near future and maybe someday studying architecture. It’s a pretty good bet that she’ll succeed in both.