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Houston: We Have The World Weightlifting Championships

By Tom Glave | Nov. 18, 2015, 1:01 p.m. (ET)

American weightlifters are excited for the upcoming IWF World Weightlifting Championships, and not just because they’ll be facing the top competitors from across the globe.

The event runs Nov. 20-28 in Houston.

Having the world championships on American soil is a definite advantage.

“It’s an advantage that we don’t have to travel,” said Jared Fleming, who is competing at worlds for the third time. “We know the culture, the type of foods (available). It’s a big advantage.”

It’s the first time the United States has hosted a combined world championship meet. The United States last hosted a men’s world championships in 1984 and a women’s tournament in 1987.

Jessica Lucero competes at the 2015 USA Weightlifting National Championships in Dallas.

“It’s pretty exciting because my whole family gets to come,” said Jessica Lucero, who is preparing for her first world championships. “You get more support being in the states. It helps the motivation and drive to do well. Travel is tough, so I’m a lot more comfortable (being in the United States).”

Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center will host nearly 750 athletes representing 113 member federations and 105 countries. The tournament is a key step in preparing for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

The stop in Houston is the final event to earn quota slots for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Team slots are determined by a nation’s combined team rankings at the 2014 and 2015 world championships.

“As teammates, we know this worlds isn’t necessarily for us,” said Lucero, who joins 14 other U.S. weightlifters and four alternates in Houston. “We’re doing it for USA. We might be going to make (personal records), maybe we will. But the first priority is Team USA. We need to lock in lots of points so we can have the Olympic team we want.”

Joining Fleming (94 kg.) and Lucero (58 kg.) are women’s lifters Morghan King, 48 kg.; Kathleen Winters, 48 kg.; Martha Rogers, 75 kg.; Jenny Arthur, 75 kg.; 2012 Olympian Holley Mangold, +75 kg.; Marissa Klingseis, +75 kg.; alternates Rhiannon Reynolds, 53 kg., and 2012 Olympian Sarah Robles, +75 kg.; and men’s lifters Derrick Johnson, 62 kg.; Alex Lee, 69 kg.; Travis Cooper, 77 kg.; Leonardo Hernandez, 77 kg.; 2012 Olympian Kendrick Farris, 94 kg.; Donovan Ford, 105 kg.; Caine Wilkes, +105 kg.; and alternates CJ Cummings, 69 kg. and Spencer Moorman, 105 kg.

Fleming and Lucero enter the world championships with momentum after big performances at the USA Weightlifting National Championships in August.

It was a breakout meet for Lucero, who won the 58 kg. weight class.

“I hadn’t competed in a little while (before nationals) and I was really excited to test my body because training had gone so well,” Lucero said. “After seeing the outcome, I know I had more in the tank and I could have done even more. It was a big push for worlds, and my training’s been even better than it was for nationals.”

Jared Fleming competes at the 2015 USA Weightlifting National Championships in Dallas.

Fleming won the 94 kg. division, setting a national record in the snatch and taking second in the clean and jerk.

“It felt great to execute my plan and win,” said Fleming, who also won a national title in 2013. “I’ll hold that win close to me. It was the most challenging win I’ve faced.

“It’s great that everything is coming together now. It gives me a ton of confidence.”

Fleming lifted 170 kg. to break a snatch national record he’s been chasing for some time and finished nationals with a personal-best total of 367 kg.

He hopes the success from nationals will carry into worlds.

“I would really like to break the top 10,” Fleming said. “That would be real good performance and earn a lot of team points.

“The better we all do as individuals, the better the team does. Everyone has to be selfless and can’t take big risks.”

Another solid performance at worlds could also continue the momentum for Fleming and Lucero into this spring’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the ultimate goal of making the U.S. Olympic Team.

“That’s in the back of my mind,” Fleming said. “Every competition, that’s the end goal. I try to take one step at a time, but I know the better I do here, the more spots we’ll have at the Olympics.”

Added Lucero: “Everything I do in training is for the ultimate goal of making the Olympic team. I’m really focused on that. Every meet I do is just another step towards it, another opportunity to get better.”

Tom Glave has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He covered prep and college sports for newspapers in Missouri and Arkansas for nine years and now works part time in the Houston area.

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