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Wonder woman

click to enlarge BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott

The third-best female weightlifter in America just graduated from Colorado College, and she's fixing her sights on 2008 Olympic gold in China.

But before that, 22-year-old Danica Rue will be lifting dusty legal tomes at New York University School of Law.

"School was always as important as lifting," she said, adding that under a sweatshirt she could blend in completely on CC's campus.

Underneath her trim appearance is a powerhouse capable of clenching 270 pounds and thrusting it skyward. She was the first runner-up for the two-person women's U.S. Olympic team last year.

Rue started lifting at age 8, while growing up in Flemington, N.J. "I don't really remember life before weightlifting," she said.

As a pre-lift ritual, Rue stamps her right foot and then grabs the barbell. She lifts slowly with her legs before lunging her body forward for a second and popping her arms upward -- all in one fluid motion.

She keeps track of her progress in a Wonder Woman notebook.

The sport has taken Rue to Australia and Eastern Europe to compete. Along the way, she's met some manly female weightlifters, some of whom may have been using performance-enhancing substances. The U.S. team prevents any funny business by testing for doping monthly and even testing to ensure gender.

During her four years at CC, Rue lived at the Olympic Training Center east of downtown and trained 12 hours a week while holding down a full academic schedule. She struggled to slow down with a schedule so grueling.

"You have to be focused and be able to concentrate and relax," she said. It's a motto that applies to the courtroom as much as the gym.

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Bruce Elliott

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