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Six months of qualifying remain as weightlifters seek to compile the results they need to make it to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but Team USA is right on track to qualify its maximum contingent of eight athletes.
At the close of the second of three qualifying periods on Oct. 31, 2019, CJ Cummings (73 kg.), Wes Kitts (109 kg.), Harrison Maurus (81 kg.) and Caine Wilkes (+109 kg.) are all in qualifying position on the men’s side. On the women’s side, it’s Kate Nye (76 kg.), Alyssa Ritchey (49 kg.), Marshall Islands Olympian Mattie Sasser (64 kg.) and Olympic medalist Sarah Robles (+87 kg.).
It’s important to remember that, at the end of April, only the top result from each of the three periods, plus the next-best result across all periods, will be used for an athlete’s standing – so there could definitely be some shake-ups. But with one year down and six months to go, these names provide a snapshot of where things stand and who to watch.
Sending the maximum eight would be a great accomplishment in American weightlifting, as Team USA sent four athletes to Rio in 2016 and three to London in 2012. And there actually are even more athletes on the women’s side in qualifying position who would lose out based on tiebreakers: Jourdan Delacruz at 55 kg. and Marissa Klingseis at 87 kg. Additionally, Mattie Rogers is just a few spots behind Nye in the 76 kg. rankings, though she would mathematically have a better shot at making the team at a different weight. Nations may only send a maximum of four men and four women, including only one per category.
The major event of this qualifying period, which began May 1, was September’s world championships. The world championships are a gold event for the purposes of Olympic qualifying, meaning they carry a greater weight (1.10) toward calculating an athlete’s ROBI score for the International Weightlifting Federation’s Absolute Rankings, which is the basis for Olympic qualification. Events like the Pan American Games that took place in July and August are silver events and carry a weight of 1.05. Click here for a complete explanation of how athletes make the Olympic weightlifting team.
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Wes Kitts competes at the IWF World Championships on Sept. 26, 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand.
A few of the group of eight moved up the rankings thanks to big performances. Nye and Rogers both made big splashes at the world championships in the non-Olympic 71 kg. weight class. Nye won gold medals in snatch, clean & jerk and total, while Rogers won silver medals in clean & jerk and total, and bronze in snatch.
Nye was also the bronze medalist at 76 kg. in the Pan American Games. Sasser was the silver medalist at 64 kg. while Robles took home the gold medal at +87 kg. Kitts was the gold medalist at 109 kg. at Pan Ams while Maurus won the bronze medal at 81 kg.
For athletes age 15-20, the world junior championships in June, also a gold event, provided a big opportunity to score points. Cummings continued his breakout year with a silver medal in snatch and gold medals in total and clean & jerk, the latter being a new junior world record. Nye swept all medals in 71 kg.
Preference goes to athletes who are in the top eight in each weight class, all from eight different countries (“world points”). Then another five per category can qualify based on being the top-ranking athlete in each continent (“continental points”) from a country who doesn’t yet have an athlete qualified at that weight. The four U.S. women currently in qualifying position all do so via world points. Kitts and Wilkes on the men’s side would qualify via continental points.
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.