TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – Team USA had a banner performance in the women’s 71kg at the 2021 IWF World Championships, winning three medals from two athletes.
Meredith Alwine (Virginia Beach, Va.) won the 71kg clean and jerk gold and total gold medals, while Olivia Reeves (Chattanooga, Tenn.) earned silver in the snatch.
Alwine, 23, is the sixth U.S. women’s world champion in history, and just the fifth to do so in the total. Medals are awarded in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total at weightlifting competitions, though only for the total at the Olympic and Pan American Games.
“We all fought so hard to make lifts and end up on the podium, and I was competing against Olympians that I respect and look up to, so it’s very surreal," Alwine said a few hours after the event ended. "It still hasn’t sunk in yet and sounds crazy [to hear I'm a world champion].”
Reeves, 18, became the third-youngest U.S. woman to medal at worlds and the youngest to do so in 22 years. The competition marked her senior international debut.
This marks the first time the U.S. has medaled at four consecutive world championships since its streak of eight from 1987 to 1994.
Both athletes had already medaled in Tashkent earlier in their young careers: Alwine swept the 75kg silvers at the 2018 IWF Junior World Championships and Reeves won the 71kg clean and jerk and total golds, plus snatch silver, at the 2021 IWF Junior World Championships -- both in the Uzbek capital.
This is the second senior world championship appearance for Alwine, who in 2018 was seventh in the snatch, fourth in the clean and jerk and sixth in the total in the same body-weight category. She swept the 75kg silver medals at the 2018 IWF Junior World Championships, also held in Tashkent. Last month, Alwine won the 2021 Pan American Championship clean and jerk and total gold medals, and bronze in the snatch, at 71kg in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
"Snatches did not go as planned. ... We obviously had a really short turnaround from Pan Ams, and to be honest I didn’t have any great snatch heavy days leading up to this," Alwine shared. "To be honest I also wasn’t comfortable with these barbells. It’s frustrating but I wasn’t necessarily surprised. I didn’t think I had any crazy big numbers in me."
She made her first snatch attempt of 100kg on Monday night, then missed at 102 and 103. Her opening clean and jerk of 130kg secured her spot on the podium while her second attempt of 135 earned Alwine the title world champion; she missed 138kg on the jerk. The 235kg total was one kilogram higher – and her clean and jerk three kilos higher – than silver medalist Sarah Davies of Great Britain.
"My Instagram following is bigger, but probably mostly my confidence," Alwine said, jokingly at first, when asked what has changed this year for her to earn her first two Pan American titles (rescheduled 2020 and 2021) and world title. "We have such amazing women in the U.S. that it can feel at times like I might not be successful because it’s just so much harder to reach the same levels you know you can but it’s just all that more difficult because we’re so deep and we’re just battling it out all the time, so having my own titles now has really given me this confidence that I deserve to be here. Even though each title has come with a total that doesn’t reflect my capability, it just gives me more hope that I can do better in the future and hopefully that I will."
Reeves made her opening snatch of 101kg, then followed it with a good lift at 104 that would be good for a medal. She missed her third attempt at 106kg. Reeves was sixth in the clean and jerk after making only her second attempt, 127kg.
The Tennessee native and University of Alabama at Birmingham freshman finished fourth overall. Bronze medalist Patricia Strenius of Sweden, Reeves and fifth-place finisher Vanessa Sarno of the Philippines all had totals of 231kg.
Reeves has medaled in all five international meets of her young career: silvers at the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships, snatch silver and clean and jerk/total golds at 2021 IWF Junior World Championships, golds at the rescheduled 2020 Pan American Junior Championship, gold at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games just last month and now snatch silver at the 2021 IWF World Championships.