Local lifter raising the bar for international success - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Local lifter raising the bar for international success

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JANESVILLE, WI (WKOW) -- For most young athletes, a concussion would take them out of the game. But for one Janesville athlete, it was a series of concussions that has lifted him to international success.

A year ago, Connor Felstead had never even heard of the sport of competitive weightlifting.

"When you go out on the platform, it's just you and the barbell," Felstead said. "Either you're going to lift it over your head or you're not."

Now, the recent Milton High School graduate is the number one junior competitor in the country, and last month represented the U.S. at the Junior World Weightlifting Championships.

"It's been crazy," said Felstead. "It's been a whirlwind."

But Felstead's journey to international success came at a price. By the end of his freshman year, Felstead had sustained three concussions while playing football and had to weigh his options.

"One play and I could not wake up," Felstead said. "It was a hard decision, but when I made the decision to stop playing football and contact sports, I was pretty bummed. But if I hadn't stopped, who knows where I would be."

Felstead's competitive nature turned him to Crossfit. And just last September, he picked up weightlifting.

"I didn't even know hardly what weight-lifting was," Felstead said, "and now I'm qualifying for international events and going to Russia and traveling all over the country."

Felstead's success has raised the bar. In the fall, he will attend Northern Michigan University on a weightlifting scholarship. But his dreams don't end there.

"Making the Olympics would be pretty awesome to say the least," said Felstead. "The more I look back on it, the more I see the journey, and that everything that has happened has led me to this moment and put me where I am today."

Felstead can compete in the junior division for one more year and hopes to qualify for the world championships again in 2015.

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