Weighty matters: Zionsville teen ascends to top in powerlifting rankings


Talk about strong showings. Zionsville West Middle School student Austin Oakley is only 13, but he is already making an impact in the world of competitive powerlifting.

Oakley has been competing for less than a year but is ranked No. 1 in the world in his weight class among 13-year-olds in the USA Powerlifting Youth rankings.

Oakley’s first powerlifting competition was in March at the Indiana State Championship in South Bend, where he set state records for his age group and weight class and qualified for regionals. On May 27, at the regional competition in Wisconsin, he qualified for the USA Powerlifting Youth Nationals.

“I was happy and excited that I was given the opportunity to compete at the national level,” Oakley said. “I feel like I have earned it after all of the hard work and time I have put into powerlifting.”

On Aug. 5 at the USA Youth Powerlifting Nationals in Arizona, Oakley competed in the Men’s Raw Youth 3 division in the sub-100 kg (220 pounds) weight class. He broke his own five American records that he had previously set at regionals.

Oakley set national records of 429.9 pounds in the squat; 275.5 pounds in the bench press; 275.5 pounds in bench press single lift; 473.9 pounds in the deadlift; and 473.9 pounds in deadlift single lift. His combined weight total was 1179.4 pounds.

“I was impressed with the numbers the other competitors were putting up,” Oakley said. “Mostly, I was just imagining the feeling of success after hitting a lift.”

His father, Robert Oakley, said Austin is an all-around athlete. His son is involved with other sports, including football, track and field and wrestling. Austin Oakley became interested in powerlifting after he began following powerlifters on social media and realized he was lifting a lot for his age.

“Our son is in the gym every day, and sometimes twice a day,” Robert Oakley said. “I taught him what I knew about lifting from when I used to play football, but he surpassed what I could do quickly. He was the only self-taught kid at the national competition.”

Austin Oakley credits his success to hard work, dedication and support from his family, teachers, coaches, classmates, teammates and friends. He also said the atmosphere of the competition helped.

An eighth-grader, Oakley practices powerlifting at an LA Fitness in Zionsville. He would like to raise awareness for the sport and get more people involved.

“Austin wants to start a powerlifting club when he gets into high school,” Robert Oakley said. “He would love to see more community members be involved in the sport.”

Oakley will turn 14 in September and will compete in the teen category at his next state competition in South Bend in March 2024. He looks forward to competing at a higher level.

“I am excited about the opportunity to be in a more competitive division,” Oakley said. “It will motivate me to work that much harder. I plan to continue doing this sport for a long time.”

Austin said his long-term goal is to set national and world records one day. He would like to be ranked top 10 in the world and eventually hit a total weight of 2,000 pounds for all events at a competition.

“He is just now getting started,” Robert Oakley said. “He is still young and is determined and committed to the sport and to continue breaking records.”

Getting to know Austin Oakley

Name: Austin Oakley

Age: 13

Resides: Zionsville

Grade level: Eighth

Hobbies outside of powerlifting: Woodworking, football, wrestling

Favorite color: Black

Motto: Remember there is always somebody better than you

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 205 pounds


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