Malaya Mitchell wins gold at international powerlifting competition

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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LUTCHER — Lutcher High School senior Malaya Mitchell was named a North American Regional Champion at an international powerlifting competition held last week in the Cayman Islands.

Mitchell earned a gold medal overall, with individual gold medals in bench and deadlift and a silver medal in squat at the SubJunior North American Worlds competition. She represented not only the River Parishes, but the nation as a whole on Team USA.

It was Mitchell’s first time traveling out of the country to compete. The experience still feels surreal, but she can hold her head high and be proud of herself for a job well done. Surrounded by beaches and beautiful scenery, Mitchell kept her eye on the prize after arriving in the Cayman Islands last Wednesday. She did her best to save her strength before competing on Friday, August 11.

Mitchell’s first event was squat. Despite feeling nervous, she managed to add 5 kilos to her personal best of 150.

After squat, Mitchell hit her stride and discovered a new inner strength that propelled her to gold medal finishes in bench and deadlift.

Her personal best in bench went from 205 pounds earlier this summer to 225 pounds at Worlds.

“All of my lifts were pretty easy,” Mitchell said. “I felt stronger than in any other meet.”

Mitchell joined Lutcher High School’s powerlifting team during her freshman year. She tried out for the team out of curiosity, not knowing at the time how much the sport would change her life.

“I went to try out with my friend. Once we got there, we saw that it was different, more family-oriented,” Mitchell said. The coaching staff encouraged her every step of the way as she traveled to regional and national meets. She has made the varsity and regional state teams each year in a program that has claimed the state championship for 16 consecutive years.

“I was nervous, but for the most part, I trusted my coaches,” she said. “I had the best coaches. All I had to worry about was picking up the weight.”

Mitchell was named a Regional Champion and a two-time State Champion in her weight class. She was awarded Outstanding Heavyweight Lifter during the state meet as a sophomore. More recently, a second place finish at the Equipped National Powerlifting Meet in Arizona sealed her ticket to compete as part of the North American Championships Team in the Cayman Islands.

Mitchell traveled to Worlds without her high school coaches, but she was happy to find support among helpful coaches at Worlds. Competition highlights can be found at

After graduating, Mitchell plans to join the Army Reserves and continue her education.