(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) - The top 30 men and top 30 women are putting the finishing touches on their final preparations for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting which is scheduled to begin Friday, May 16 and conclude on Saturday, May 17 in Atlanta, Ga.
The 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting will be held at the Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech University.
Competition will be divided into three sessions for both women and men (A, B and C), with ten athletes per gender lifting in each session. The C and B sessions are scheduled to take place on Friday, May 16.
The women's and men's A sessions will take place on Saturday, May 17. Athletes lifting in each session was determined by pre Olympic Trials ranking events which included the 2007 World Championships, the 2007 American Open Weightlifting Championships, the 2008 National Junior Weightlifting Championships, the 2008 National Championships and the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships (for men only).
The top ten ranked women and men in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials rankings will lift in the A session on Saturday, May 17. Athletes ranked 11-20 will compete in the B session, while those ranked 21-30 will compete in the C session.
Melanie Roach (Bonney Lake, Wash.) enters the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials as the top-ranked female weightlifter. Roach had thought her shot at Olympic glory had passed her by when her dream of making the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team was derailed by a back injury in 1999. Following that injury, Roach retired from the sport, got married (to Dan Roach), started a business and had three children. In 2005, the weightlifting and Olympic bug bit Roach again and she re-entered the sport and by 2007 had regained top form.
The 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time Olympian (2000 and 2004) Cheryl Haworth (Savannah, Ga.) will be attempting to make her third consecutive U.S. Olympic Team, but finds herself in the unfamiliar position of being ranked fourth among the USA women.
Natalie Woolfolk (Arnold, Md./Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Carissa Gump (Essex Junction, Vt./Colorado Springs, Colo.) enter the Olympic Trials ranked second and third respectively.
They are followed closely by Jackie Berube (Escanaba, Mich./Colorado Springs, Colo.), Amanda Hubbard (Atlanta, Ga./Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2000 U.S. Olympian Cara Heads (Costa Mesa, Calif./Shreveport, La.), Emmy Vargas (Panorama City, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo.), Stacy Suyama (Torrance, Calif.) and Doreen Fullhart (Lisco, Neb./Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Based on his performance at the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Callao, Peru, Kendrick Farris (Shreveport, La.) enters the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials as the top ranked male weightlifter.
Farris is followed closely by 2004 U.S. Olympian Chad Vaughn (Konawa, Okla./Norman, Okla.) who enters the Olympic Trials as the second ranked weightlifter.
Matt Bruce (Baton Rouge, La.), Norik Vardanian (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Casey Burgener (Bonsall, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo.) are nipping at their heels. Burgener is hoping to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team alongside his fiancee Natalie Woolfolk.
Lance Frye (Moorestown, N.J.), Jeff Wittmer (Florissant, Mo.), Henry Brower (Chattanooga, Tenn./Colorado Springs, Colo.), Henry Woodard II and Zach Krych (Colorado Springs, Colo.) round out the top ten on the men's side.
For the complete listing of athletes competing in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting please visit www.usaweightlifting.org.
Ranking of athletes is determined by top percentage of weight lifted as compared to body weight. For the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the United States women qualified for the maximum of four competition slots based on their combined eighth place team placement at the 2006 and 2007 World Weightlifting 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 athletes on teams that had originally placed above the United States.
For the USA men, knowing the number of qualified Olympic slots has been a roller-coaster ride. At the conclusion of the 2007 World Weightlifting Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand, September 17-26, 2007, the U.S. men sat in position to secure three Olympic slots with a 27th place combined 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 were then forced to compete in the final Olympic qualifying event, the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships, March 17-22 in Callao, Peru, where the eight-member U.S. team had to finish ranked first or second as a team to qualify for two Olympic slots. With a strong team performance the U.S. men finished first and qualified for two Olympic slots.
Following the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships, the U.S. men prepared for their attempt to finish in the top two at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The spirits of the athletes attempting to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Team received a tremendous boost on Tuesday, May 13 when they learned that the International Weightlifting Federation had met via teleconference with IWF Vice President and former U.S. Olympic Team Coach Dragomir Cioroslan and offered the United States a third men's Olympic slot.
USA Weightlifting is awaiting the final official written invitation for the third men's Olympic slot from the IWF, but is confident that the paperwork will be in place in time to be able to select three male Olympians at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting on Saturday, May 17.
"This is great news for USA Weightlifting,"said Dennis Snethen, USA Weightlifting Executive Director."We've got three golden tickets to the greatest show ever, the 2008 Olympic Games. The bottom-line is that we've had a clean record internationally because of the help of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in our domestic meets. We have not had an international positive in WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) events and I think that was a big factor for the IWF to extend this invitation to us. We also owe a great deal to the diplomatic efforts of our international relations representative Dragomir Cioroslan. Because of this invitation by the IWF this is going to change someone's life forever."
For the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, all 30 athletes will be competing against each other and not just those athletes in their specific weight class. This means that to four best women's lifters and the three best male lifters will make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team regardless of weight class.
As has been the case for past Olympic Games, more than one individual per weight class could make the team.
The final ranking will be determined by the highest percentage of weight lifted compared to body weight.
The 2008 USA Weightlifting National Championships and the 2008 Pan American Weightlifting Championships (for men only) will serve as the secondary Olympic Team Qualifying event, meaning that athletes competing in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials may elect to use their totals from either the 2008 National Championships or the 2008 Pan American Championships (for men only) if they are higher than those they post at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
With that being said, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials is a must-compete event meaning that athletes qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials must compete in the Olympic Trials in order to have the opportunity to use the secondary event total if necessary.
If an athlete is not able to compete in the Olympic Trials, they must be granted a waiver of petition for exceptional circumstances in order to use their secondary event total.
The anticipated schedule for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting is as follows:
Friday, May 16
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Women's C Session
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Men's C Session
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Women's B Session
7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Men's B Session
Saturday, May 17
12:00 noon-2:00 p.m.
Women's A Session
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Men's A Session