The Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro will go down as a success for Team USA Weightlifting. Two-time Olympian Sarah Robles won Team USA's first weightlifting medal in 16 years. Kendrick Farris made his third Olympic appearance and is eyeing a fourth. Meanwhile first time Olympians Morghan King and Jenny Arthur each set new American Records at these Games.
Team USA's performance at the Summer Olympic Games certainly caught the attention of Olympians both past and present.
"I was very impressed with Sarah's performance and so excited to see a US weightlifter back on the medal podium," 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Nott Cunningham told USA Weightlifting."Our entire US women's weightlifting team had amazing performances in Rio. This team was prepared both psychically and mentally and showed young weightlifters that it is possible to compete with the best in the world."
Cunningham and Cheryl Haworth were part of the first women Olympic weightlifting competition and were the last Americans to win Olympic Medals until Robles stepped onto the medal stand one week ago.
Cara Heads Slaughter was also part of the inaugural women's weightlifting team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She traveled to Rio to cheer on each member of Team USA as they took the competition platform.
"Witnessing U.S. lifter Sarah Robles win a bronze medal in the Olympics was another defining moment in USA Weightlifting's Olympic history," Slaughter said. "Having witnessed Cheryl Haworth's incredible strength and competitive prowess for the majority of my career, I'm excited to see a return to this caliber of lifting and competitive performance on the international stage."
USA Weightlifting's success on the international stage is only expected to grow in the next quadrennial with top names of the sport joining the organization. 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist Pyrros Dimas will join USAW as technical director in 2017. Respected international coach Tamás Fehér will become USAW's new Coaching Education Manager. Pedro Meloni, who organized the Rio 2016 weightlifting competition as sports administrator will become USAW's senior events manager.
For many Olympians, Sarah Robles winning the Bronze Medal is one of these Games' most prized moments.
"Kudos to Sarah Robles and Tim Swords and (National & OTC Resident Coach) Zygmunt Smalcerz. What a fantastic performance," 1992 Olympian Paul Fleschler told USA Weightlifting. "The medal came right at the time we needed it the most. It was a really big boost for USA Weightlifting. I am so happy for them.""Sarah has overcome some major adversities in the last several years but always remained focused on her dream," Carissa Gump, 2008 Olympian and Associate Executive Director of Business & Development of USA Weightlifting said. "I am so proud of her. I am so proud she's part of the small sisterhood of weightlifters who have represented the United States at the Olympic Games."
"It was a great performance on her part," 3-time Olympian (1968, 1972, 1976) Fred Lowe told USA Weightlifting. "When you see our athletes compete under the scrutiny and drug supervision, when you see the lifts that our athletes do, every single person that has anything to do with weightlifting, in the US should have the utmost respect for any of our Olympians, any of our National Champions."
The International Weightlifting Federation's strong stance on anti-doping should only help Team USA achieve greater success in the future.
"I'm hoping this will continue down the road so we have more American lifters that can compete on a level playing field," Fleschler said.
With the Olympic Games in Rio coming to a close, we now turn our focus to 2020 and the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo.