When the 2020 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team was announced on May 19, it was clear this team was something special:
CJ Cummings (men’s 73kg)
Jourdan Delacruz (women’s 49kg)
Wes Kitts (men’s 109kg)
Harrison Maurus (men’s 81kg)
Kate Nye (women’s 76kg)
Sarah Robles (women’s +87kg)
Mattie Rogers (women’s 87kg)
Caine Wilkes (men’s +109kg)
Not only had the United States qualified its largest Olympic weightlifting team in 25 years – and its first full one in as much time, as one of only two nations to field an eight-member team (the other being powerhouse China) – but this was also the most decorated U.S. team in recent history.
Four of the U.S. athletes who competed at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are IWF World Championships medalists at the senior level from this Olympic quadrennium.
The four men and four women had also medaled a combined 25 times at the Pan American Championships during this quadrennium, including all eight standing on the podium at the 2020 edition held earlier this year.
Off the platform, this team was the most diverse U.S. Olympic weightlifting team that has been assembled to date.
The four men and four women – the U.S.’ first-ever gender-balanced team – each represent a different state. The women run the gamut from the lightest bodyweight category to the heaviest. There is a 13-year age gap between Cummings and Wilkes, with the team ranging in age from 21 to 34. Cummings is Black, while Delacruz and Robles are of Hispanic descent. Four of the athletes are married, with Kitts being a father. Seven made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, with the other – Robles – competing at her third Games.
Over seven days of competition held between July 24-Aug. 4 at the Tokyo International Forum, this team did not disappoint, exhibiting the culmination of the U.S.’ resurgence among the sport’s top nations, which has been mounting over the past five years.
The elite eight produced the best collective American performance in generations, with a bevy of record-breaking and memorable performances that will go down in history.
Here’s a look at some of the ways the 2020 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team lived up to its lofty expectations to leave its mark on Tokyo:
Seven of the eight U.S. lifters finished in the top nine of their bodyweight categories, with four placing in the top half of their fields.
The last time the U.S. had seven athletes finish in the top-10 was 37 years ago at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984. The U.S. also achieved this feat in 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960. It’s worth noting, though, that the U.S. had a larger team (10 or more weightlifters) competing in four of those seven instances.
The Los Angeles 1984 Games is also the last time four U.S. men finished in the top nine.
Two Americans – Nye and Robles – left Tokyo with Olympic medals, the first time the U.S. won more than one weightlifting medal since the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, when women’s weightlifting first joined the Olympic program.
Nye’s silver in the women’s 76kg (249kg total) marked the first Olympic silver medal by a U.S. woman in the sport, as well as the best Olympic finish by any U.S. weightlifter in 21 years – since Tara Nott won the inaugural women’s flyweight contest. Nye’s medal is also the first in the women’s light heavyweight division for the U.S. She is the second-youngest U.S. woman to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic Games.
The 22-year-old’s medal also meant the U.S. has medaled in weightlifting at consecutive Olympic Games for the first time in 53 years (last done in 1964, 1968).
Robles’ bronze in women’s +87kg (282kg total) meant she is the first U.S. woman to win multiple Olympic weightlifting medals (and just the 18th woman in the world to do so), following her bronze five years ago in Rio. She now accounts for 40% of the women’s weightlifting Olympic medals the U.S. has earned.
With Cheryl Haworth’s bronze in 2000, the U.S. has now medaled in women’s super heavyweight at three of the event’s six Olympic appearances. Only China and South Korea can say the same.
Robles is the first American of either gender to win multiple Olympic medals in the sport in 57 years. Having turned 33 one day before her Aug. 2 competition, Robles is also the oldest U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal and the second-oldest U.S. woman to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic Games.
She is the second U.S. woman to compete at three Olympic Games; only Norb Schemansky has more Olympic appearances among U.S. weightlifters with four.
The day before Nye’s competition, Maurus placed fourth in the men’s 81kg (361kg total) for the best finish by an American man in 33 years since 1984 Olympic silver medalist Mario Martinez, the last U.S. man to medal in the sport, was fourth in the +110kg in 1988.
Maurus’ finish is also the best by a U.S. man in the light heavyweight division since 1960, when Jim George took silver at 82.5kg.
The U.S. has never before had such a strong performance by both a man and woman – or, in this case, women – at a single Olympic Games.
Rogers was sixth in the women’s 87kg, with a 246kg total, tying the U.S.’ best placement in women’s heavyweight, set by Jenny Arthur in 2016.
With a 390kg total in the men’s 109kg, Kitts placed eighth, putting two U.S. men in the top-eight for the first time since the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992.
Cummings, the youngest U.S. Olympic weightlifter since 2000 (ironically, the year he was born), finished ninth in the men’s 73kg with a 325kg total.
Wilkes, who closed out the competition for Team USA, also finished ninth in his event (+109kg) with a 390kg total.
Delacruz, the first American to compete, had two successful Snatch attempts in the women’s 49kg (83kg, 86kg), and impressively sat in second place entering the Clean and Jerk, but was unable to make a successful lift, finishing without a total and placement.
Four of the eight U.S. weightlifters also had American-record performances.
Nye’s Snatch of 111kg broke the American record of 109kg that had stood since December 2019. Her 249kg total also broke the American record of 245kg that was set in September 2018.
Kitts set the first 109kg Snatch American record when he matched the record standard of 177kg.
Maurus’ 361kg total is a new American record, besting his own 358kg total from the 2018 World Championships. He also matched his current American record Clean and Jerk of 200kg.
Robles’ best Snatch tied the American record of 128kg set by Haworth in 2003.