TOKYO (Aug. 3) – Wes Kitts entered the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 holding two of the American records in the men’s 109kg, and he leaves with all three.
Making his Olympic debut Tuesday night in the Tokyo International Forum, Kitts placed eighth of 14 lifters with a total of 390kg.
The 31-year-old former football player chose to push himself in the biggest competition of his career, opening at impressive weights.
“I just wanted to take my time,” Kitts said after making his Olympic debut. “I was chalked up and ready to go. I was taking my time to put a good technical Snatch together instead of bullying it around.”
Starting with 173kg in the Snatch – 3 kilograms higher than any of his openers in prior international competition – Kitts had a good first lift. While he missed his second attempt at 177kg, Kitts finally made that lift on his third attempt, which set the American record Snatch. Previously, 177kg had been the American record standard. He attempted that weight at the 2019 IWF World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, but missed.
“It wasn’t my first go at it, but it feels good,” Wes said of adding his name to another place in the record books. “I took it in the last three meets in a row. It’s a cool achievement.”
He had cleared that weight successfully in training, including at USA Weightlifting’s Tokyo Strong training camp leading up to the Olympic Games.
Kitts already owns the American – and Pan American – Clean and Jerk (223kg) and total (399) records in the bodyweight category.
His opening lift in the Clean and Jerk was 213kg – 2 kilograms more than his past openers in international competition, which Kitts missed. He came back soon after to make 213kg in his second attempt, then closed out his Olympic competition with a missed third attempt of 220kg.
Kitts’ eighth-place result in Tokyo is his highest placement at a global competition.
“Overall, it’s alright. It’s not my best total,” Kitts said. “When you come to the Olympics, I think everyone wants to do their absolute best so it’s a little disappointing. I had a tough year. We trained hard. I feel pretty good.”
The Knoxville, Tennessee, native, who trains at California Strength with coach David Spitz, has competed at the past three World Championships, finishing as high as 10th in 2017. He is also the 2019 Pan American Games champion and 2018 (105kg) and 2019 Pan American Championships gold medalist.
Kitts is the first American to compete in the men’s heavyweight category at the Olympic Games in 25 years, since Wes Barnett and Konstantine Starikovitch at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996.
Kitts plans to return to USA Weightlifting’s Tokyo Strong Camp in Honolulu, Hawaii where his wife, son and parents are anxious to congratulate him on his performance.
“It was definitely a little bit surreal to see the Olympic rings on the stage and seeing him there competing,” said his wife, Kendall Kitts. “It’s just pretty crazy, and I’m just so proud and excited for him.”
Caine Wilkes (+109) will finish the competition for Team USA in Tokyo tomorrow, August 4th at 1:50pm Japan, 12:50am Eastern time.