By Chrös McDougall | July 14, 2018, 11:54 a.m. (ET)
Juliana Riotto competes in the women's 90 kg. at the 2018 IWF Junior World Championships on July 13, 2018 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

 

Following a historic performance by U.S. weightlifters at the 2017 senior world championships, the next generation of Americans kept the momentum going at the IWF Junior World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which wrapped up Saturday. In the eight-day event, U.S. athletes won 18 medals, marking the most successful showing ever for Team USA at the competition.

The U.S. women, with one gold medal and 13 total medals, led all countries to win the team competition. The U.S. men won five medals, including three golds by CJ Cummings.

Already a five-time youth and four-time junior world champion prior to 2018, Cummings led the way for Team USA by sweeping the men’s 69 kg. class. His winning snatch (140 kg.) and clean & jerk (176 kg.) added up to the winning total of 316 kg.

These marked Cummings’s third junior world titles in three years in clean & jerk and total weight, while he won snatch for the first time. Cummings, of Beaufort, South Carolina, is coming off a season in which he set a new senior, junior and youth American record in the 69 kg. category.

In the men’s 85 kg. division, Harrison Maurus won the clean & jerk (198 kg.) while finishing third in total weight at 349 kg. Maurus won bronze in both events at the 2017 senior worlds, ending a 20-year medal drought by U.S. men.

On the women’s side, Juliana Riotto led the way for Team USA, finishing with three medals in the 90 kg. class. Riotto took first in snatch (99 kg.), second in total weight (224 kg.) and third in clean & jerk (125 kg.). Identified in 2015, Riotto became the first athlete identified through USA Weightlifting’s recruiting project to win a world-level medal.

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Meanwhile, three U.S. women swept the silver medals in their respective divisions.

In the women’s 53 kg. class, Jourdan Delacruz lifted 86 kg. in snatch, 107 kg. in clean & jerk, and 193 kg. in total weight. In women’s 69 kg., Kate Vibert notched 100 kg. in snatch, 125 kg. in clean & jerk, and 225 kg. in total. And in women’s 75 kg., Meredith Alwine lifted 99 kg. in snatch, 121 kg. in clean & jerk, and 220 total.

Ashamarie Benitez Rivera closed out the medals for Team USA on Saturday. She finished third in the women's +90 kg. clean & jerk, lifting 104 kg.

With nine medals through Wednesday, it was already the most successful Junior World Championships for Team USA, with nine athletes still left to compete. The medal total was also a nine-fold increase from last year’s Junior World Championships, when Cummings’ two wins marked Team USA’s only medals, and more than doubled the country’s best previous performance in the event.

The performance also follows last year’s senior-level world championships in California, in which the U.S. won eight total medals, including the first world titles since 1994. The U.S. men ended a 20-year medal drought at the event when Maurus took home two bronzes, while the women ended a 12-year drought and took home six total medals, including Sarah Robles’ three golds.

Robles had previously made history in Rio when her bronze medal broke a 16-year Olympic medal drought for U.S. weightlifters.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.