22 countries strong, the 2016 FISU World University Championships brought excitement and energy to Merida, Mexico, a bustling city in the northwestern corner of the Yucatán Peninsula. Rolando Zapata Bello, Governor of the State of Yucatán, opened the event on Monday, and sessions ran nonstop through Thursday afternoon.
This event was part of a large series of World University Championships for over 35 sports. The Mexican Weightlifting Federation, in partnership with the International University Sports Federation, hosted the weightlifting competition.
Team USA brought a strong presence to Merida, winning a total of 22 medals and placing second in team rankings for both men and women. Eight American University records were broken throughout the week.
Kerri Keegan (State University of New York at Cortland) started off competition strong on Monday afternoon, winning two gold and a silver in the 48kg division. This was Keegan's first international competition, following her first national event at the National University and U25 Championships earlier this fall, and she's still taking it all it.
"I was a little star struck when I got here and was standing with my team. It hasn't really hit me yet. I'm excited," said Keegan.
Caitlin Hogan (Texas Women's University) followed in the 53kg division, winning silver across the board. She set a new American University record in the snatch at 81kg and then broke the clean and jerk record twice, with successful lifts at 104kg and 107kg.
Mary Peck (California State University at Sacramento) and Angelo Bianco (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), who both competed in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, made the podium on the second day of competition. Peck, competing in the 63kg division, won gold in the snatch and broke the current American University snatch record twice. Bianco held his position in the men's 77kg division, winning three silver medals. Only one athlete, Jian Tang of China, surpassed him.
Mattie Rogers (Valencia College) dominated the platform on Wednesday afternoon. She swept the competition in the women's 69kg division, claiming three gold medals and setting three new American University records. Rogers enjoyed her six-for-six performance, tweeting to her fans afterward, "Going 6 for 6 is so much fun. You get to be happy after every lift, how cool."
James Tatum (North Carolina School of Advanced Bodywork) and Travis Cooper (University of Georgia) brought Team USA's medal count to 16, following their performance in the men's 85kg division. They represented the United States in every medal ceremony for 85kg, Tatum winning silver in the snatch and total, and Cooper clinching silver in the clean and jerk.
On the final day of competition, Marissa Klingseis (Missouri State University) swept silver in the women's +75kg class. Matthew McCarty (University of Michigan) won bronze and Evan Graybill (University of Georgia) claimed two silver in the men's 105kg division to bring Team USA's final medal count to 22.
Other Team USA lifters included Aaron Addison (Polk State College), Javier Pagliery (Saint Thomas University, School of Law), Nicholas Saccente (American International University), Stephanie Lemmen (Central New Mexico Community College), and Cecily Basques (California State University at Sacramento).
With the conclusion of the FISU World University Championships, the United States has officially completed a grand slam for 2016 — at least one U.S. lifter has stood on the podium of every international competition attended this year.
FISU WORLD UNIVERSITY CHAMPIONSHIPS
NEW AMERICAN UNIVERSITY RECORDS
Caitlin Hogan (53kg): 81kg snatch
Caitlin Hogan (53kg): 104kg clean and jerk (subsequently broken)
Caitlin Hogan (53kg): 107kg clean and jerk
Mary Peck (63kg): 92kg snatch (subsequently broken)
Mary Peck (63kg): 95kg snatch
Mattie Rogers (69kg): 103kg snatch
Mattie Rogers (69kg): 132kg clean and jerk
Mattie Rogers (69kg): 235kg total