Medal Droughts End for Team USA at World Championships

By Kevin Farley and Kelsey Kennedy | Dec. 02, 2017, 10:38 p.m. (ET)

ANAHEIM, California -- Team USA's decades-long medal droughts at the World Championships finally ended Saturday as Harrison Maurus and Mattie Rogers both claimed the home team's first medals of the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California.

Seventeen-year-old Harrison Maurus' meteoric rise in the sport soared to new heights in the men's 77kg A session, breaking his own Youth World Record in clean and jerk with a 193kg (425.49 lb), one kilogram more than his old record of 192kg (423.28 lb) set when he won the 2017 Youth World Championships April 8th in Bangkok, Thailand. The lift was also strong enough to secure a bronze medal in the clean & jerk. Combined with his best snatch of 155kg (341.71 lb), Maurus secured bronze with a combined total of 348kg (767.27 lbs). 

An American man hasn't won a medal at a Senior World Championships since Wes Barnett claimed bronze in 2005. 

“It’s been a long drought, 20 years, and to have somebody this young at the senior level already winning medals only bodes well for the future, and it really speaks to the caliber of athletes that USA Weightlifting has in its stables,” Barnett told TeamUSA.org.

Maurus, of Auburn, Washington, is affiliated with Alpha Strength and Conditioning, a USA Weightlifting-sanctioned club. 

"This was an amazing session," Maurus' hometown coach Kevin Simons said. "This is surreal. I started working with Harrison since he was 10 years old, a little boy. Now one of he's one of the greatest American weightlifters of his generation." 

"The weightlifting gods were smiling on us," USA Weightlifting National Team Coach Mike Gattone said. "We needed 1 kilogram for the world record, and one for a medal. It worked perfectly."

The 193kg clean & jerk also set new youth, junior and senior American Records in the 77kg weight category. Maurus' 348kg combined total (767.27 lb) also broke the Youth, Junior and Senior American Records. The Junior and Senior American Records in total were last set by two-time Olympian Oscar Chaplin, III in 2000.

Also on Saturday, Team USA women ended a 12-year medal drought at the World Championships as Mattie Rogers swept bronze in the women's 69kg weight category. 

Rogers made her first and second snatch attempts of 101kg (222.66 lbs) and 104kg (229.28 lbs). 

“That one felt really good,” Rogers said of her second attempt. “I felt like I could do a lot more, but couldn’t.”

On her third attempt, Rogers tried to beat her own American Record Snatch of 106kg (233.69 lbs) with 107kg (235.89 lbs), but missed. Her second attempt of 104kg held up for a bronze medal, behind Romela Begaj of Albania (107kg) and Miyareth Mendoza Carabali of Columbia (106kg [233.69 lbs]).

Roger’s personal coach, Danny Camargo says they’d been hoping to make history at this World Championship.

"We’re super excited about that, and very, very glad, but as a coach you know you self-reflect and I think I could’ve done something different for her," said Roger’s personal coach, Danny Camargo.  

"I explained that to her and our relationship is just so great she turned to me and said, 'I got three medals, I don’t care, I’m very happy about it.'"

Rogers told USA Weightlifting she’s grateful for her relationship with her coach. 

"I get a little bit sassy, and he’ll tell you that but, we did this together and it’s just as much my medal as it is his," Rogers said.

pt> On her first clean and jerk attempt, Rogers hit 131kg (288.80 lbs), which would hold up for a bronze medal in the Clean and Jerk as well. Her second and third attempts of 135kg (297.62 lbs) would have beat her own American Record in the Clean and Jerk of 135kg, but they were missed.

“Mattie Rogers is a warrior and one of our leaders, we’re very proud of her,” said Team USA’s National Coach, Mike Gattone. “We were in a tough battle, we locked in with that opening clean and jerk and then took a big jump to push the Columbian and see what we could do to move up the ladder there. I think she just ran out of gas on that last clean and jerk.”

The gold in the Clean and Jerk went to Egypt’s Sara Ahmed with 136kg (299.82 lbs), the silver to Columbia’s Leidy Yessenia with 135kg (297.62 lbs).

Rogers' total of 235kg (518.08 lbs) secured a bronze medal behind gold medalist from Columbia, Leidy Yessenia (239kg [526.90 lbs] total) and Romela Begaj of Romania, also with a 235 (518.08 lbs) kg total.

“I’m really excited to bring home medals, but a little disappointed because looking at the total that won, that was my entry total,” Rogers said. “I think every athlete thinks I could’ve done better, so I’m happy but not necessarily content.”

The last woman to medal at a World Championship, Cheryl Haworth, was in the audience for Mattie’s session. “It’s an absolute thrill for me to be present for Mattie’s incredible performance,” Haworth told USAW. “USA Weightlifting should be enormously proud, as I am, for being represented at this world championships by such a strong, tough and determined bunch of athletes.” Haworth won bronze medals for Team USA in 2005 in the Clean and Jerk and Total in the +75 weight category.

Mattie says she is looking forward to competing against Leidy Yessenia again next year at the Pan American Championships, hopes to make a run at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday's action, Team USA will send three athletes to the platform. At 9AM pacific, Nathan Damron competes in the 94kg B category. At 3:30PM pacific, Colin Burns competes in the 93kg A. Olympian Jenny Arthur returns to international competition at 6PM pacfic in the women's 75kg A session. Click here for live stream information.