Team USA’s Olivia Reeves Win Gold on a Record Breaking Day at the 2023 Pan American Games
SANTIAGO, Chile – The United States’ Olivia Reeves (81 kg/Chattanooga, Tenn.) won Pan American Games gold in the women’s 81 kg division on Monday in Santiago, Chile. The young star stole the show at Gimnasio Chimkowe on the third day of weightlifting competition, grabbing the first place spot and refusing to relinquish it while smashing personal and Junior Pan American Games records along the way.
Morgan McCullough (102 kg/Knoxville, Tenn.) enjoyed an outstanding day as well, breaking a slew of records en route to a sixth place finish in the men’s 102 kg division. Reeves’ fellow women’s 81 kg athlete Shacasia Johnson (81 kg/Blue Springs, Mo.) enjoyed a strong meet as well, finishing in 5th place.
Keiser Witte (+109 kg/Phoenix, Ariz.) and Mary Theisen-Lappen (+87 kg/Eau Claire, Wis.) will close out the weightlifting competition on Tuesday in Santiago.
Reeves entered the meet on a mission, landing six straight successful lifts and breaking personal and Junior Pan American Games records in snatch, clean and jerk and total. Stepping on to the platform with her signature smile each and every time, it was clear that Reeves was simultaneously having the meet and time of her life. She ended the snatch competition in the first-place spot and kept her foot on gas in the clean and jerk competition. As she stepped on to the platform for her final lift, Reeves had the gold medal secured but chose to attempt 144 kg, a weight she’d never tried in training or competition. She closed out the competition in spectacular fashion, completing the lift to win Pan American Games gold and break her own Junior Pan American and personal records. Reeves’ gold medal winning 258 kg total also marks a Junior Pan American, Senior American and personal record.
“It feels pretty great. I was not exactly expecting this in the 81 kg weight class but it’s a nice surprise. I’m very excited. Six for six day, that’s a great time,” Reeves said. “144 is a two kilo PR in clean and jerk. I’ve never touched that weight or anything more in training or in competition so that’s an all-around best day of my career right there.”
Although Reeves broke multiple records on Monday, it’s setting new standards for herself that really motivates her. “I just like breaking my personal records. That is the most fun really. Me against me. I always want to do my best. 144, I believed I had it in me and I did and that’s what I wanted to do.”
Competing in his first senior international meet, McCullough started the day on fire, breaking records with two of his three snatches in the men’s 102 kg division. After a successful opening lift of 150 kg, he bested his own previous PR of 152 kg with a successful 153 kg lift in his second snatch attempt before setting a new Junior Pan American record of 158 kg in his third lift, marking a six kilo jump from his previous best. He continued his run in the clean and jerk, landing his opening attempt at 190 kg and tying the Junior Pan American record with a successful lift of 196 kg in his second attempt. His 354 kg total added a second Junior Pan American Record to his incredible day in Santiago.
“It just feels like all of my hard work is paying off now. I’ve had a few bad meets in the snatch and I’ve just been working really hard on it. It’s really cool to finally feel it pay off a little bit and see improvement. I’m just happy for improvement,” McCullough said. “It feels great. I haven’t broken any records since I was a youth, and it feels good to have my name back in some sort of record book again.”
The significance of competing in the Pan American Games in his first senior international meet isn’t lost on McCullough. “It’s an honor. I never in a million years thought that I would make this team. I wanted to make the most out of it,” McCullough added.
Johnson missed her opening snatch attempt of 100 kg in the women’s 81 kg division but rebounded to successfully lift 100 kg and 104 kg in the snatch. She completed all three of her lifts in the clean and jerk, lifting 120 kg, 125 kg and 130 kg to close out her Pan American Games appearance. Johnson’s 234 kg totally earned her a fifth place finish in Santiago.
“I had a five for six day. This is my first international tournament since 2019 so I was just really excited to come here and make some lifts and have a positive meet. The first snatch was just a stupid miss, just a little bit of nerves. I knew that I was capable of more so I knew that going in to my last attempts,” Johnson said.
All of the 2023 Pan American Games competition can be watched live on the Pan Am Sports Channel.
Stay tuned to USA Weightlifting’s website and social media channels for all of the latest news from Santiago.
Olivia Reeves’ Results
Snatch: 114 kg (Junior Pan American Games record/Senior American/PR)
Clean and Jerk: 144 kg (Junior Pan American Games record/Senior American/PR)
Total: 258 kg (Junior Pan American Games record/Senior American/PR)
Morgan McCullough’s Results
Snatch: 158 kg (Junior Pan American Games record/PR)
Clean and Jerk: 196 kg (Ties the Pan American Games record)
Total: 345 kg (Junior Pan American Games record
Finish: 6th place
Shacasia Johnson’s Results
Snatch: 104 kg
Clean and jerk: 130 kg
Total: 234 kg
Finish: 5th place
Tuesday’s Pan American Games Schedule
4 p.m. Chile time/3 p.m. ET: Keiser Witte/M +109 kg
7 p.m. Chile time/6 p.m. ET: : Mary Theisen-Lappen/W +81 kg