For Immediate Release February 28, 2008 USA Weightlifting National Championships Set to Begin Friday, February 29 in Columbus, Ohio-Fans Can Catch the Action On-line COLUMBUS, Ohio-The 2008 USA Weightlifting National Championships are set to begin tomorrow, Friday, February 29 in Columbus, Ohio. The event, hosted by the Columbus Weightlifting Club, Inc. in conjunction with the annual Arnold Sports Festival, will go through the weekend, concluding Sunday March 2. The National Championships is the final domestic event to determine athlete ranking prior to the Olympic Trials. Athletes must be ranked in the overall top 30 for both men and women to qualify for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Weightlifting. Friday, February 29 will see action in the women's 48kg, 53kg and 58kg weight classes, as well as in the men's 56kg, 62kg and 69kg weight classes. The women's 48kg weight class will start the competition at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and the women's 58kg weight class will wrap up the day with competition scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Fans not in Columbus can catch all of the action via the world-wide-web at www.usaweightlifting.com or at 220.127.116.11. With the approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the webcast is being provided by Network Foundation Technologies, LLC (NFT). Top USA Weightlifting athletes will be competing in these National Championships. Among those registered to compete are 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time U.S. Olympian (2000 and 2004) Cheryl Haworth (Savannah, Ga./75+kg Weight Class), Natalie Woolfolk (Arnold, Md./Colorado Springs, Colo./63kg Weight Class), Melanie Roach (Bonney Lake, Wash./53kg Weight Class), Emmy Vargas (Panorama City, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo./75+kg Weight Class), Carissa Gump (Essex Junction, Vt./Colorado Springs, Colo./63kg Weight Class), Doreen Fullhart (Lisco, Neb./Colorado Springs, Colo./75kg Weight Class), Jackie Berube (Colorado Springs, Colo./58kg Weight Class), Stacey Suyama (Torrance, Calif./48kg Weight Class), Cara Heads (Costa Mesa, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo./69kg Weight Class), Robin Goad (Atlanta, Ga./53kg Weight Class) and Amanda Hubbard (Atlanta, Ga./Chandler, Ariz./58kg Weight Class."Our National Championships is always our golden prize in domestic weightlifting competition,"said Dennis Snethen, Interim Executive Director for USA Weightlifitng."We're very excited this year as it promises to be a spirited competition. I would also like to thank the U.S. Olympic Committee for supporting us in being able to have this event available to the greater weightlifting community through the webcast being produced by NFT. We're excited for the competition to begin."For the complete start list for the 2008 USA Weightlifting National Championships, please visit www.usaweightlifting.org. The United States women have qualified for the maximum of four competition slots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The number of 2008 Olympic slots was determined by combined team placement at the 2006 and 2007 World Weightlifting Championships. The 2006 World Weightlifting Championships was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, September 30-October 7, 2006 and the 2007 World Weightlifting Championships were held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, September 17-26, 2007. The USA women qualified for the maximum of four Olympic slots based on their final placing of eighth as a team from a combined formula of the 2006 and 2007 World Championships. The USA women had originally placed ninth, but their team ranking improved by one position following the recalculation of team points after doping positives were discovered for teams that had originally placed above the United States. Christmas of 2007 was not as kind to the USA men as the grinch (in the form of the International Weightlifting Federation website) visited, taking away the three Olympic slots that the team had thought they had secured with their performances at the 2006 and 2007 World Weightlifting Championships. At the conclusion of the 2007 World Weightlifting Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand the U.S. men sat in position to secure three Olympic slots with a 27th place combined team finish, making the U.S. the final country to qualify slots for the Olympic Games. As was the case with the women, teams above the U.S. had athletes that received doping positives. Despite no one on the U.S. team testing positive, the U.S. men dropped one position in the overall team rankings when team totals were recalculated, thus losing the three Olympic slots they thought they had earned. The shift in order, due to doping positives by athletes in teams that finished above Team USA, caused a re-shuffling of team points and the final mathematical breakdown moved Chinese Taipei above the United States. The U.S. men will still have the opportunity to qualify two Olympic slots through the Pan American Regional Olympic Qualifying event which is the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships that will be held March 17-22 in Callao, Peru. To qualify for the two Olympic slots, the eight member USA team must finish ranked first or second as a team. For the eight men that will represent the United States at the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships, this event will count as their National Championships in regards to ranking going into the Olympic Trials. A total of 260 athletes will compete in the sport of weightlifting at the 2008 Olympic Games. In accordance with the rules of the International Weightlifting Federation, a country could qualify to enter a maximum of six men and four women for the 2008 Olympic Games. USA Weightlifting will hold the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, May 16-17 in Atlanta, Ga. to determine which athletes will fill the slots it has earned on the women's side and will earn on the men's side. USA Weightlifting will send a team of eight top ranked weightlifters to what promises to be a pressure packed event with Olympic qualification on the line at the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Callao, Peru, March 17-22. 2008 USA Weightlifting Pan American Championships Men's Team Derrick Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.), 62kg Weight Class Chad Vaughn (Konawa, Okla./Norman, Okla.), 77kg Weight Class Matt Bruce (Baton Rouge, La.), 77kg Weight Class Kendrick Farris (Shreveport, La.), 85kg Weight Class Zach Krych (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 85kg Weight Class Jeff Wittmer (Florissant, Mo.), 94kg Weight Class Casey Burgener (Bonsall, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo.), 105+kg Weight Class Zach Schluender (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 105+Weight Class Head Coach: Paul Fleschler (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Assistant Coach: Dennis Snethen (St. Joseph, Mo.) Team Leader: Kyle Pierce (Shreveport, La.) For more information, please contact Cecil Bleiker, USOC Manager of NGB Media Services in the USOC Media , Public Relations Division at 719-330-2062. This press release is also available on the USOC's media specific website at www.usocpressbox.org.