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USA Weightlifting Men's Team Qualifies for Two Olympic Slots at Final Olympic Qualifier in Callao, Peru

March 23, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)

For Immediate Release March 23, 2008 USA Weightlifting Men's Team Qualifies for Two Olympic Slots at Final Olympic Qualifier in Callao, Peru COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-The USA Weightlifting Men's Team will be represented by two athletes on the Olympic platform at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing China. Powered by consistent performances by all eight men competing for the U.S. at the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships and final Olympic qualifier, this weekend in Callao, Peru, the U.S. men's team finished the event in first place as a team among country's not already qualified for the Beijing Games, thus securing two Olympic slots for the United States men. The U.S. men also brought home the overall team silver medal from the event, finishing just behind Cuba."I am extremely proud of our team,"said Dennis Snethen, Interim Executive Director for USA Weightlifting."We accomplished our goal for this competition which was to secure the two available Olympic slots. All of our guys contributed to this success with consistent lifts in a high pressure meet. Now we move on to the Olympic Trials in Atlanta, Ga. in May where these teammates will now compete to see who the two Olympians will be."Canada also secured two Olympic slots and Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina each earned one Olympic slot a piece through their team's performances at this important event. Please see below for the individual totals for Team USA from the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships: Derrick Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.), 62kg Weight Class-240kg total (107kg snatch and 133kg clean and jerk)-14th Place Overall Matt Bruce (Baton Rouge, La.), 77kg Weight Class-325kg total (145kg snatch and 180kg clean and jerk)-Fourth Place Overall Chad Vaughn (Konawa, Okla./Norman, Okla.), 77kg Weight Class-322kg total (142kg snatch and 180kg clean and jerk)-Fifth Place Overall Kendrick Farris (Shreveport, La.), 85kg Weight Class-347kg total (150kg snatch and 197kg clean and jerk-silver medal)-Fourth Place Overall Zach Krych (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 85kg Weight Class-319kg total (140kg snatch and 179kg clean and jerk)-Sixth Place Overall Jeff Wittmer (Florissant, Mo.), 94kg Weight Class-347kg total (155kg snatch and 192kg clean and jerk-bronze medal) Casey Burgener (Bonsall, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo.), 105+kg Weight Class-380kg total (170kg snatch-silver medal and 210kg clean and jerk)-Fourth Place Overall Zach Schluender (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 105+Weight Class-375kg total (167kg snatch-bronze medal and 208kg clean and jerk-personal record)-Fifth Place Overall The top eight U.S. men represented the USA at this critical event. The event was full of pressure for these eight individuals as U.S. representation on the men's 2008 Olympic platform was dependent upon their combined performances. 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. Easter proved to be a better holiday for the U.S. men's team. The eight men that secured 2008 Olympic participation for the USA 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 represented 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 did 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 for both women and men. 2008 USA Weightlifting Pan American Championships Men's Team Derrick Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.), 62kg Weight Class Matt Bruce (Baton Rouge, La.), 77kg Weight Class Chad Vaughn (Konawa, Okla./Norman, Okla.), 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 719-866-4608. This press release is also available on the USOC's media specific website at www.usocpressbox.org.