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USA Weightlifting Men's Team Ready for Final Olympic Qualifier

March 14, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)

For Immediate Release March 14, 2008 USA Weightlifting Men's Team Ready for Final Olympic Qualifier COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-USA Weightlifting Men's Team is in the midst of final preparations for the final opportunity to qualify the country for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. This final chance for the USA men will come at the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Callao, Peru. The team must place in the top two, among teams who have not already qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games, in order to secure two positions for the upcoming Beijing Games. The top eight U.S. men will represent the USA at this critical event. The team departs for Peru on Monday, March 17 and will begin competition on Wednesday, March 19. By the end of the day on Easter Sunday, March 23 the team is fully expected to have secured two Olympic slots."We're taking our top eight men to Peru to qualify our two spots for the Olympic Games,"said Dennis Snethen, Interim Executive Director for USA Weightlifting."The Pan American Championships in Callao, Peru is going to be one of the most important events ever for USA Weightlifting, as we've never had an Olympic Team without a U.S. man on the platform, so the pressure is on and every lift will be like air to breathe."Following the conclusion of the 2007 World Weightlifting Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in September, the U.S. men thought they had done enough to secure three Olympic slots as they sat in a 27th place combined finish from the results of the 2006 and 2007 World Championships. This would have made the U.S. the final country to qualify slots for the Olympic Games. Christmas of 2007 was not 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. The International Weightlifting Federation re-calculated the team standings following doping positives by athletes from other teams and, despite the fact that no one on the U.S. team tested positive, the U.S. men dropped one position in the overall team rankings, thus losing the three Olympic slots they thought they had earned. The shift in order, due to doping positives in teams that finished above Team USA, caused a re-shuffling of points and the final mathematical breakdown moved Chinese Taipei above the United States leaving the U.S. men's team as the first team not qualified for the Olympic Games. Hopefully Easter will be a better holiday for the U.S. men's team. If the U.S. men's team secures the two Olympic slots next week, they will move onto the 2008 U.S. OIympic Team Trials for Weightlifting, May 16-17 in Atlanta, Ga., where they will be vying with 22 other men for two positions and a chance to perform on the Olympic platform in Beijing. 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 and will be their secondary Olympic qualifying event. 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. The 2008 USA Weightlifting National Championship, February 29 through March 2 in Columbus, Ohio, served as the final event to determine athlete ranking prior to the Olympic Trials for the women. To see the rank order of the top 30 women for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for Weightlifting please visit www.usaweightlifting.org. The weight lifted at the 2008 National Championships is the secondary Olympic qualifier for the women. USA Weightlifting will not send a women's team to this year's Pan American Championships since the U.S. women have already secured the maximum number of Olympic slots available. 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. 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.) 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships Men's Schedule Tuesday, March 18-Opening Ceremony Wednesday, March 19-Men's 56kg and 62kg weight classes Thursday, March 20-Men's 69kg weight class Friday, March 21-Men's 77kg and 85kg weight classes Saturday, March 22-Men's 94kg and 105kg weight classes Sunday, March 23-Men's 105+kg weight class For more information, please contact Cecil Bleiker, USOC Manager of NGB Media Services in the USOC Media , Public Relations Division at 719-866-4608. This press release is also available on the USOC's media specific website at www.usocpressbox.org.