Rio 2016 venue: Riocentro – Pavilion 2 (Barra Zone)
Competition dates: Aug. 6-16
Medal events: 15 (8 weight classes for men, 7 for women)
Olympic introduction: 1896 (Athens, Greece)

At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, U.S. weightlifters are aiming to snap a 32- and 16-year Olympic podium drought for men and women. The men last won medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles when Mario Martinez and Guy Carlton took home silver and bronze in superheavyweight and heavyweight. Meanwhile, the U.S. women last stepped on the podium at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, when Tara Nott-Cunningham and Cheryl Haworth won gold and bronze medals in the 48 kg. and +75 kg. weight divisions.

At the 2012 Games in London, Team USA posted three top-10 finishes, including Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold placing seventh and 10th in the +75 kg. weight class, and Kendrick Farris finishing 10th in men’s 94 kg. division. 

With the rising popularity of Olympic-style weightlifting in recent years, USA Weightlifting has seen a significant increase in its membership across all ages, from youth to masters. Increased membership has brought a larger and stronger talent pool to Team USA.  

Four weightlifters will represent for the United States in Rio, with one man and three women earning Olympic berths. 

Jenny Arthur was the first to be named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team in January based on her top U.S. placements at the 2014 and 2015 world championships. The Georgia native is a resident athlete at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center and competes in the 75 kg. weight class.

Morghan King and Sarah Robles earned the remaining two female spots by placing first and second in the qualification rankings following the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on May 8 in Salt Lake City.

Heading into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the men’s team had yet to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Needing to place eighth or higher at the Pan American Championships in order to secure a national quota spot, the team tied for third place to qualify for the Games. Kendrick Farris earned the right to fill the quota spot with the highest placement in his respective weight class, winning the Pan American Championships at 94 kg.

The Rio 2016 weightlifting competition will run from Aug. 6-16 at the Riocentro – Pavilion. Roughly 260 athletes will be competing in 15 different weight classes to identify the world’s strongest athletes. 

Athletes To Watch
Jenny Arthur 
Arthur is a three-time national champion, American Open Champion and Pan American silver medalist, and has competed at the last three world championships. She prepares to make her Olympic debut after placing eighth overall in the 75 kg. weight division at the 2015 World Championships.

Kendrick Farris
Kendrick Farris made a name for himself in 2006 and 2007, when he won back-to-back national titles en route to qualifying for his first U.S. Olympic Team at 94 kg. At the Beijing 2008 Games, he set two American records and placed eighth overall. He then won the Pan American Championships in 2010 and went on to make his second Olympic appearance in London, where he repeated his eighth-place finish. In the lead-up to Rio, Farris won individual gold and team bronze medals at the 2016 Pan American Championships, and won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in his division. 

Morghan King  
King has competed at the last three world championships and holds the most major IWF international credits of any other U.S. female athlete. She breezed through this year’s national championships with a 23 kg. lead over her next closest competitor.

Sarah Robles 
Set to compete at her second straight Olympic Games, Robles is a 2012 Olympian and 2015 world championships team member. She placed sixth overall at the 2015 World Championships with a personal record of 279 kg. in the 75+ kg. division. 


  • Over the past few years, USA Weightlifting’s membership has more than doubled. This astonishing growth is not isolated to a particular age group, but occurring at youth, junior, senior and masters levels. The rise of CrossFit, which has a large focus on Olympic weightlifting, has driven many athletes to the sport and is widening USA Weightlifting’s talent pool.
  • USA Weightlifting hosted the 2015 World Championships in Houston, marking the first time the combined male and female event took place on American soil. Team USA experienced the advantages of being on home soil, including support from a passionate U.S> fan base. The United States was recently awarded the 2017 Pan American Championships and will host the event in Miami in July 2017.