By Todd Kortemeier | Sept. 19, 2018, 4:27 p.m. (ET)

Sarah Robles competes in weightlifting at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

 

After winning eight medals at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships and ending a 12-year medal drought, Team USA will aim for even more success with the 2018 world championships squad announced Wednesday.

Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles leads the U.S. team. She was one of three U.S. athletes to win medals at last year’s historic world championships, which took place in Anaheim, California. In sweeping the gold medals in the women’s +90 kg. class, she also became the first U.S. weightlifter to win a world title in 23 years. 

Harrison Maurus and Mattie Rogers – the other medalists from last year – return to the U.S. team for this year’s world championships, which take place Nov. 1-11 in Ashgabat, Uzbekistan.

More than world titles will be on the line in Ashgabat, as the competition will be the first Olympic qualifying event for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The most significant method of Olympic qualifying will be based on world ranking points earned from Nov. 1, 2018 through April 30, 2020. To make the Olympic team that way, an athlete must have competed in at least one gold-level event. Gold events include the senior or junior world championships, or senior or junior continental championships held in that time period.

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The 2018 worlds will also be the first international competition using the International Weightlifting Federation’s new bodyweight categories enacted in July. 

“It was exciting to see our best athletes compete in the new bodyweight categories at the American Open Series 3 in Las Vegas over the weekend,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said in a release. “We are interested to see how the new bodyweight categories shape the competition in Ashgabat and begin the Olympic qualification pathway for our athletes.”

Rogers swept the bronze medals in the women’s 69 kg. class last year, while Maurus took bronze in clean & jerk and total weight in the men’s 77 kg. category. The eight medals marked the most for Team USA at a world championships since 1991. Before last year, a U.S. woman hadn’t medaled since 2005, and the last U.S. man to medal was in 1997.

Robles is no stranger to ending medal droughts, as her bronze in Rio was also the first Olympic weightlifting medal for an American in 16 years. And just this past weekend, she broke the 13-year-old senior American record for the 161 kg. clean & jerk.

Completing the U.S. women’s team are Meredith Alwine, Olympian Jenny Arthur, Jourdan Delacruz, Hunter Elam, Caitlin Hogan, Jessica Lucero, Alyssa Ritchey and Mattie Sasser. Cortney Batchelor and Taylor Turner are alternates.

Completing the U.S. men’s team are Jason Bonnick, Jordan Cantrell, CJ Cummings, Nathan Damron, Wes Kitts, Alex Lee, Keiser Witte, Caine Wilkes and Jordan Wissinger. John Downey and D’Angelo Osorio are the alternates. 

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.