TOKYO (Aug. 1, 2021) – Kate Nye (76kg; Oakland Township, Mich.; Team USA/Power and Grace Performance) won the women’s 76kg silver medal Sunday night with a 249kg total, marking the best result by a U.S. weightlifter in 21 years and first medal for USA Weightlifting at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Nye is the first U.S. women's weightlifter to win Olympic silver and the fourth medalist since women's weightlifting joined the Olympic program in 2000. It is also the U.S.' first Olympic medal in the women's light heavyweight division.
The other U.S. women to medal on the Olympic stage include Tara Nott (2000 gold), Cheryl Haworth (2000 bronze) and Sarah Robles (2016 bronze).
At 22 years old, Nye is the second-youngest U.S. woman to compete at the Olympic Games; Haworth was 17 in 2000 and 21 in 2004.
"It feels surreal," Nye said. "I feel like I’ve had such a whirlwind of a quad, starting weightlifting in 2016, so the fact that I’m here in 2021 with a medal around my neck is unreal."
She will receive a cumulative $47,500 for her silver-medal success: $25,000 from USA Weightlifting and $22,500 from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee's Operation Gold.
Nye has an impressive background in gymnastics, having reached Level 9 in the sport (the penultimate level before turning elite). She later took up CrossFit before discovering Olympic weightlifting. She began competing in 2016 and medaled at the youth level at that year's national championships.
After winning both the junior and senior world titles in 2019, Nye was on the path toward Olympic greatness. The postponement of the Tokyo Games kicked off a tumultuous year in her life, though, making her Olympic medal even sweeter.
"I think this last year is the most challenging year of my career, so far," Nye shared. "I made it to the top in 2019 in my true weight class, which is 71kg, and then after that it was kind of, let’s get into this Olympic weight class and figure things out. Between that, COVID, a coaching switch (to Spencer Arnold), lots of personal stuff with my mental health, it’s been a really hard year, but I think all of those trials and tribulations make me the person I am today, and I don’t think I’d be in this second-place spot without them."
Nye changed coaches to Arnold of Power and Grace Performance in March 2021, then split her time between her home in Michigan and the Power and Grace gym in Georgia.
"I work with a lot of athletes, and that girl is the most athletic person I think I’ve ever worked with," Arnold said. "She was able to apply training and progress so fast that I knew after six weeks that she was going to be in a really good place. She takes coaching so well and trusts me. Before I knew it, we were off to the races."
Making her Olympic debut in the Tokyo International Forum, Nye made her first two Snatch attempts of 108kg and 111kg, with the latter setting an American record. The previous American record of 109kg was set by Shacasia Johnson in December 2019.
Nye appeared to have a successful third Snatch, with the referees initially ruling her 114kg attempt a good lift, but it was later overturned by the jury for Nye letting go of the weight while it was still above her shoulders.
"That was one of the best lifts I’ve ever done in my life, especially at that weight, and it is definitely a disappointment that it was overturned," Nye said. "But when it comes down to it, I broke the rule, so I saw it and was like, ‘Oh shoot,’ and it’s something you don’t think about very often, especially in an emotional moment like that. It’s a disappointment but they were right and all I can do is learn from it, so that’s what I plan on doing."
The Oakland Township, Michigan, native had a successful first Clean and Jerk lift of 133kg and followed that up with a made second attempt of 138kg. Nye missed her third and final attempt - 148kg - but her total of 249kg broke the American record of 245kg that 2016 Olympian Jenny Arthur set in September 2018.
Ecuador's Neisi Dajomes won gold with a 263kg total to become the first female athlete from her country - in any sport - to win an Olympic medal, while Mexico's Aremi Fuentes took bronze with 245kg.
Nye is used to etching her name in the history book by now. At 20 years old, she became the youngest U.S. women’s world champion in 2019, and just the fifth U.S. woman to win the event. Nye then became the first American to be named IWF Lifter of the Year.
"I think USA Weightlifting has been looked down on for a very long time now, and I feel like the talent and all of our hard work is finally showing now," she said. "I just hope that I can inspire a new generation of American weightlifters to expect more out of themselves because we can do it."
Nye's historic performance comes on the heels of Harrison Maurus' (81kg; Auburn, Wash.; Team USA/Power and Grace Performance) fourth-place finish on Saturday, which was the highest placement by a U.S. man since 1988.
Nye and Maurus are part of an eight-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting - the nation's largest and first full team since 1996. The U.S. is one of only two nations to field a full team of four men and four women in Tokyo.
Team USA Weightlifting continues competition on Monday, Aug. 2, with World medalists Mattie Rogers (87kg; Apopka, Fla.; Team USA/Catalyst Athletics) and Sarah Robles (+87kg; Desert Hot Springs, Calif.; Team USA/Team Houston).