Thursday, July 12, 2012
Born into a religious Jewish family, the soon-to-be sixth-grader weighs just under 44 kilograms (97 pounds) but somehow managed to lift more than two times her own bodyweight.
Earlier in July, Kutin broke two additional regional records for her age group."It's kind of weird being stronger than an adult," Kutin told the Jewish daily Forward when asked about her unusual powerlifting capabilities.
Kutin began competing two years ago. When she was eight, her father introduced the sport to her after watching her outshine the boys in her karate class. She practices lifting in the family's basement, with her parents encouraging her throughout the way. "Come on, Supergirl," her mother said when Kutin showed signs of struggle. "You can do this. No fear."
The Kutins are a modern Orthodox family from New Jersey. Ed Kutin, the father became religious as an adult, while Neshama, the mother converted from Christianity. They try to refrain from competing on Saturdays in order to observe the Sabbath. The main problem they face is how to get to the competitions when they are held on a Saturday.
Another problem the Kutins face has to do with the physical act of weightlifting. The Torah prohibits carrying objects on the Sabbath to a public area from a private home. "We try to avoid it," Ed Kutin said.
In most competitions, women and adolescents compete on Saturdays and the men compete on Sundays. However, due to the special circumstances, Naomi is forced to lift at the Sunday meets, which are typically filled with muscle-bound, tattooed men.
"They are an unusual look for us," Neshama Kutin said. "It's not like you go to synagogue and see that."
At Yeshivat Noam, Kutin's religious elementary school, Naomi like all the girls there, wears a long, dark skirt that covers her knees. Naomi's powerlifting outfit is a very different look.
According to Neshama Kutin, Naomi's teachers have cheered on her powerlifting, placing a newspaper clipping of one of her record-setting competitions in the hallway trophy case.
Linda Stock, the assistant principal at Yeshivat Noam's elementary school, said that Kutin's athleticism has earned her the admiration of her peers. "The powerlifting apparel," she added, "does not clash with the school's modesty standards."
"I don't think it plays into anything," she said. "We have plenty of kids who wear pants outside of school, or sleeveless shirts. When they come in, they are dressed appropriately."