CALI, Colombia – Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.) and Olivia Reeves (76kg; Chattanooga, Tenn.) were selected as Team USA’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the Junior Pan American Games Cali-Valle 2021, which runs from Nov. 25-Dec. 5 in Colombia, USA Weightlifting and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced today.
While this is the first edition of the Junior Pan American Games, no weightlifter has previously served as flag bearer for Team USA in the known history of the Pan American Games, which was first held in 1951. The tradition of one men’s and one women’s athlete sharing the honor of leading the delegation into the Opening Ceremony began at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player/short track speedskater Eddy Alvarez.
"It is a privilege to represent all of the U.S. athletes by bearing the flag which symbolizes the hard work and dedication that have joined us as a community of people who strive to obtain excellence," Reeves said.
Both teenaged weightlifters enter the Cali-Valle Games as reigning world champions.
Morris, 17, already has competed abroad three times this year, winning gold at the Pan American Junior Championship in July, the IWF Youth World Championships in October – where he set the current 61kg youth world records in clean and jerk (156kg) and total (276kg) – and the Pan American Championship earlier this month in his senior international debut. Morris’ world records are also the youth, junior and senior American records and youth Pan American records.
"It is an absolute honor to have been chosen as the flag bearer nominee for the sport of weightlifting, let alone being chosen to be the flag bearer for the entire country!" Morris said. "As with every event that I go to, I look forward to a good competition and to making friends with the other athletes."
Reeves, 18, was victorious at both the IWF Junior World Championships in May and the Pan American Junior Championships in July. She holds the snatch (94kg), clean and jerk (121kg) and total (215kg) youth (age 16-17) American records at 71kg, and the clean and jerk youth American record (99kg) for age 14-15 at 64kg.
Their time in Colombia will be followed by both of their senior-level IWF World Championships debut, Dec. 7-17 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Established in 2019 by Panam Sports, the Junior Pan American Games will showcase the world’s best under-23 athletes across 39 sport disciplines in Cali and Valle del Cauca, Colombia. The majority disciplines are on the summer Olympic program, with a few unique additions that are also on the senior-level Pan American Games program such as bowling, roller sports and squash.
Winners across all events will earn a spot by name at the 2023 Pan American Games that will be held in Santiago, Chile.
The U.S. Junior Pan American Games Weightlifting Team features the maximum team size of 10 athletes who are among the first to compete, beginning with Morris, Friday, Nov. 26 through Monday, Nov. 29.
The team ranges in age from 17 to 20 and includes Katie Estep (55kg; Auburn, Wash.), Meaghan Strey (59kg; Auburn, Wash.), Olivia Reeves (76kg; Chattanooga, Tenn.), Anna McElderry (87kg; Oley, Pa.) and Avery Owens (+87kg; Fort Meade, Md.) on the women’s side, while the men competing are Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.), Ryan Grimsland (67kg; Lewisville, N.C.), Chrisanto D’Agostino (96kg; Moorhead, Minn.), Morgan McCullough (109kg; Granite Falls, N.C.) and Ryland Shriver (+109kg; Sacramento, Calif.).