Team USA expects light haul in weightlifting
Source: NBC By the Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) – The U.S. weightlifting team is hoping for at least one medal in the Beijing Olympics, and Melanie Roach has the best shot in the women’s 53-kilogram category on Sunday.
It would take a very strong performance, though, to put the 33-year-old mother of three within reach of the bronze, which is all the Americans can really hope for in a sport increasingly dominated by Asian countries, especially China.
“We have four girls and we hope to get one in the top six and one medal,” U.S women’s coach Dennis Snethen said.
The men’s target is set even lower. A top-10 finish for Chad Vaughn in the 77-kg category and a top six for Kendrick Farris in the 85-kg would be a good result, coach Roger Nielson said.
“A medal? It’s going to be a long shot,” he said.
That may seem like modest ambitions for a country that used to be a weightlifting powerhouse, but those days are long gone. The U.S. men have not won any Olympic weightlifting medals since 1984.
Tara Nott won the only U.S. gold medal so far for the women, in Sydney 2000.
Super heavyweight Cheryl Haworth won a bronze in those games and said she wants another medal in Beijing, of whatever color.
“It doesn’t really matter to me at this point. I just want to go and compete well. I want to do my country proud and lift like I know I can lift,” she said.
It won’t be easy. Haworth will compete on Saturday against some strong women, including world champion Jang Mi-ran of South Korea and Olha Korobka of Ukraine.
It’s one of the categories where China isn’t participating, even though it has some strong competitors in that weight class, too. The reason is no country can enter more than four women and six men in the competition.
If it weren’t for those restrictions, China — which won the first weightlifting gold medal Saturday in the women’s 48-kg division — would stand a good chance of sweeping every women’s category.
“China is a tremendous weightlifting factory,” Snethen said. “I’ve been told they have 100,000 women weightlifters in China. That’s more than the rest of the world.”
By comparison, the U.S. Olympic weightlifting organization has just over 5,000 active members of both genders, including athletes, coaches, referees and volunteers.