By Chrös McDougall | Feb. 20, 2020, 12:09 p.m. (ET)

Kate Nye poses for a photo at the Team USA promo shoot in November 2019 in West Hollywood, California.

 

With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 looming, U.S. weightlifter Kate Nye has been on a serious upswing.

The Oakland Township, Michigan, native won a junior world silver medal in 2018 before claiming her first junior and senior world titles in 2019.

On Thursday, she was named the IWF’s Best Woman Lifter of 2019, becoming the first American to receive that honor. The women’s award has been given out since 1991, while the first men’s winner was named in 1982.

Though still relatively new to weightlifting, Nye has been quickly climbing the ranks. A former gymnast, she quit that sport at age 15 and soon became involved in CrossFit. Through that she met a coach who introduced her to weightlifting, and before long she was finding international success.

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The pinnacle so far was at the world championships this past September in Pattaya, Thailand. Nye, then 20, won gold medals in the snatch, clean & jerk and total for the women’s 71 kg. division, breaking five snatch records (junior world, junior and senior Pan American, and junior and senior American) and two total weight records (junior and senior American) in the process.

All the while, she became the youngest U.S. women’s world champion in the sport’s history.

Nye, who turned 21 in January, will receive the award April 14 at the USA Weightlifting Golden Gala in New York City. Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia, who has claimed a world or Olympic title every year since 2015, won the IWF male award for the third year in a row.

Among more than 50,000 ballots cast, Nye received 9,105 votes. The next highest woman, Kuo Hsing-Chun on Chinese Taipei, earned 7,755.

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