In recent years, the development of USA Weightlifting has been pointing steadily upwards. It has established itself not only as a national sports federation but also as a competitive nation in international competitions.
This is the mission statement of USA Weightlifting and it has been successfully implemented in recent years. Phil Andrews, in particular, was responsible for transforming USA Weightlifting (USAW). In April 2016, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of USAW. Since then, there has been a resurgence in the U.S. as well as significant membership growth. Andrews supported significant reforms at the international level, particularly in the area of anti-doping, hosted three International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships, and provided a performance boost for United States athletes that led to their best results in over 60 years.
That the U.S. has become a nation that has established itself as both an international sports federation and a competitive nation in international competitions in recent years is no accident. USA Weightlifting’s top athletes come together in national teams and train at places like Juggernaut, Catalyst Athletics and California Strength. One of the top coaches is Greg Everett, head coach of Catalyst Athletics, one of the most successful teams in Olympic Weightlifting. Unlike German athletes, for example, the top U.S. athletes do not train in clubs and compete against each other in a league setting, but rally around a few very good coaches, compete in national championships and thus benefit from each other. There are 45 state-based Local Weightlifting Committees (LWC’s) in the United States. Each LWC promotes weightlifting programs and develops athletes in its region by hosting local competitions and other programs.
The Role Of social media
One of those athletes is Mattie Rogers. She has ushered in a new era of USA Weightlifting. The 25-year-old is the first U.S. woman in more than 25 years to win a medal at three straight World Championships. For many, Rogers is the face of weightlifting in the United States. This is also reflected in her nearly 650,000 followers on Instagram.
Through social networks, USA Weightlifting propelled its rise in recent years. Especially for a marginal sport like weightlifting, it is important to gain media presence. The various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provide USA Weightlifting and its athletes with numerous communication opportunities to reach out to their fans, showcase their own brand, or even their advertising partners. Therefore, it often happens that US male and female athletes are better known than, for example, German male and female weightlifters.
Biggest Olympic team in 25 years
At this year’s Tokyo Olympics, USA Weightlifting will be represented by four male and four female lifters. These eight male and female athletes are expected to lead the U.S. team to its best Olympic Games in more than 60 years. “By sending our largest team to the Olympics since 1996, the U.S. team has already made history,” Andrews said, “These eight athletes have proven their resilience. Our job now is to support them as they try to deliver their best performance in Tokyo.”
In addition to Rogers, USA Weightlifting has another prominent athlete in its ranks in Kate Nye. The 22-year-old took the gold medal at the 2019 IWF World Championships in Thailand (-71 kg), while Rogers finished second and earned silver. This makes them the first two weightlifters to finish 1st and 2nd at a world championship. They are also the first two Americans of either gender to share a World Championship podium in over 30 years. The last time Karyn Marshall and Carol Cady succeeded in doing this were in 1989 at the third Women’s World Championships (+82.5 kg) (silver and bronze).
The women’s team is completed by Sarah Robles (+87 kg) and Jourdan Delacruz (49kg). Robles won the 2017 IWF World Championships and claimed the only U.S. medal in weightlifting among the four U.S. lifters in 2016 at the Rio Olympics (bronze). As a result, all four weightlifters are ranked among the top three in their weight categories in the global Olympic qualification and have a realistic chance of winning an Olympic medal.
Four male athletes represent the USA in Tokyo
But USA Weightlifting has also produced successful athletes in the men’s division in recent years. One of them is Harrison Maurus. At the 2017 World Championships in Calif, the then 17-year-old won bronze in both the total and the clean and jerk (-77 kg), securing Team USA’s first men’s weightlifting medals in more than 20 years. With 193 kg in the clean and jerk he set a new youth world record.
Another notable athlete from the USA is C.J. Cummings (-73 kg). He was dubbed “the LeBron James of weightlifting” as a 15-year-old prodigy and now, at 21, will make his Olympic debut as the youngest American weightlifter since 2000. Cummings is the only U.S. athlete to place in the top five in every class in global Olympic qualifying. He is second in the 73 kg class and is looking to become the first American to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting since 1984. The US team is completed by Wes Kitts (-109kg) and Caine Wilkes (+109kg).
The last time the U.S. won more than two medals in weightlifting was in the 1960 Rome Olympics. But this year, the chances of setting this figure are not bad.