CALI, Colombia – All three U.S. weightlifters who stepped on the platform Friday – Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.), Ryan Grimsland (67kg; Lewisville, N.C.), Katie Estep (55kg; Auburn, Wash.) – stamped their names in the history books on the first full day of competition at the Junior Pan American Games Cali-Valle 2021.
Morris became the first U.S. weightlifter to medal at a Junior Pan American Games and the first weightlifting silver medalist in the event’s history. Grimsland is the first U.S. Junior Pan American Games weightlifting gold medalist and first 67kg champion in Games history. Estep is the first U.S. women’s weightlifting medalist and first U.S. women’s weightlifting gold medalist at a Junior Pan American Games.
In his fourth international meet of the year – but first multisport event of his career – Morris, 17, kicked off the lifting for Team USA. He went three for three in the snatch, making his lifts of 112kg, 116kg and 119kg, the latter being one kilogram shy of the youth American and youth Pan American record he set at last month’s IWF Youth World Championships.
He wasn’t as successful in the clean and jerk, though, with a good opening lift of 148kg followed by two missed attempts at 156kg, which would have matched his youth world record. Morris’ total of 267kg earned silver behind Colombia’s Esteven Jose Villar (274kg), while Venezuela’s Fabian Jose Marquez Luces (263kg) took bronze.
Grimsland, 19, also went four for four, and was able to impressively win the 67kg gold medal despite missing his final snatch and final clean and jerk attempts. The victory earned Grimsland a spot by name at the next Pan American Games, which are set to be held Oct. 20-Nov. 5, 2023, in Santiago, Chile.
His first two snatches were 126kg and 129kg, followed by an attempt at 133kg that would have marked a new personal record, while he made clean and jerks of 155kg and 159kg before missing a massive jump to 169kg that also would have marked competition PRs in both the clean and jerk and total.
Venezuela’s Reinner Josue Arango Mendez and Chile’s Sergio Andres Cares Valdes earned silver and bronze with totals of 286kg and 269kg, respectively, behind Grimsland’s 288kg.
Estep closed out the Americans’ banner day with her second international gold medal in under two months after winning Youth World Championships in October. The 17-year-old was credited with an 83kg snatch after making her first (80kg) and third attempts but missing her second (a first try at 83kg). She was third entering the clean and jerk and missed her first attempt of 103kg, but fought her way to the win after good lifts of 104kg and 109kg, which was three kilos higher than any other athlete.
She totaled 192kg, followed by Mexico’s Irene Esmeralda Borrego Palacios (191kg) and Colombia’s Antonia Moya Mena (189kg).
Estep also earned herself a spot at the Pan American Games Santiago 2023.
Across all sports, Team USA wrapped up Friday with 18 total medals and is second in the medal count behind Brazil.
Saturday’s competition features Meaghan Strey (59kg; Auburn, Wash.) competing at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Day 1 Team USA Weightlifting Results:
Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.); Snatch: 119kg, Clean and Jerk: 148kg, Total: 267kg (silver)
Ryan Grimsland (67kg; Lewisville, N.C.); Snatch: 129kg, Clean and Jerk: 159kg, Total: 288kg (gold)
Katie Estep (55kg; Auburn, Wash.); Snatch: 83kg, Clean and Jerk: 109kg, Total: 192kg (gold)