Reeves’ Career Day Puts Her Over China, North Korea at IWF World Cup

PHUKET, Thailand - Olivia Reeves continues to cement herself as one of this generation's greatest weightlifters. The 20 year old from Chattanooga, Tenn., brought down the house during the 71 kg A session of the IWF World Cup, the final weightlifting Olympic qualifier, sweeping the competition and setting three American records in the process. She lifted 118 kg in the snatch (American record) and 150 kg in the clean & jerk (American record) for a 268 kg total (American record). Reeves also went 6-for-6 on the day, marking the fourth consecutive competition where she didn’t miss a lift. Her lifts were all just shy of the world records (121/154/273) and set the No. 2-ranked 71 kg lifter up nicely for the 2024 Olympic Games. Meredith Alwine (26, Orlando, Fla.) competed alongside Reeves in the session, recording a 99 kg snatch and 133 kg clean and jerk for a 232 kg total. She went 3-for-6 in her lifts.

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Reeves’ victory marks the first time a U.S., lifter has topped both Guifang Liao (China) and Kuk Hyang Song (North Korea) in competition. Song had won six of her previous seven meets dating back to 2017, with the lone exception being the 2018 Youth Olympic Games where she didn’t total. Liao had competed in eight international meets prior to the 2024 World Cup, winning three of them. Reeves previously podiumed alongside Song and Liao at the 2023 IWF Grand Prix II in Doha, Qatar, where Song won with a 269 kg total, Liao took second with a 264, and Reeves finished third with a 262. 

Reeves entered the day with 115 kg snatch, 147 kg C&J and 262 kg total personal records. All three were the standing 71 kg American records, which Reeves set at the Doha Grand Prix. Coming off the platform in Thailand, she said she was “feeling pretty ecstatic and in disbelief,” adding that she’ll need to watch the video multiple times to believe today’s performance actually happened.

Reeves has continuously and exponentially grown over the past few years, setting new personal records in four consecutive meets dating back to the 2023 IWF World Championships. In the past nine months, she’s added 10 kg to her snatch and 11 kg in her C&J. Reeves and personal coach Steve Fauer don’t fixate on the records in training, they’re chasing progress. Hitting that 150 kg clean and jerk was the target today.

“We don’t really pay attention to the records and stuff.” Reeves said. “It’s more like if it’s a personal goal then it’s a goal. The 150 today - who doesn’t want to clean and jerk 150? If it’s a personal goal and it happens to be an American record then it is what it is but that’s not really what we’re chasing.”

“The growth that she’s had, there’s so much credit that has to go to Steve,” said Mike Gattone, head coach of Team USA. “They made a conscious decision at the beginning of this quad that ‘We’re going for it and we want to make the Olympic team.’ Olivia was a really good junior, but no one could tell that all of this was going to happen yet between her, Meredith, and all of the other 71 kg U.S. lifters. On top of that, Olivia’s mind is just incredible. You see how calm and cool she is all the time. She’s just having fun, and lifting weights for her I think is so fun. She just wants to crush big weights and she’s been a special lifter from the beginning, but there’s been this steadiness and then there was this huge peak and the rollercoaster just went up the hill and it’s been really cool to see.”

“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Fauer. “Another 6-for-6 performance, and then the weight she’s hit. That 150 is a weight she’s been afraid of for a while now, and when she came back off the stage after that 147 she said ‘I want 150’ and I knew she was going to make it because she wanted it. We’re off to chasing 160 now. That’s our next goal.”

While the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team won’t officially be set until May 23rd, Reeves is firmly in prime qualifying position. She wasn’t expecting this moment to come so soon in her career, detailing that she and Fauer took things one competition at a time and targeted being top-10 at 71 kg, then shot for medal position, and then focused on pushing out the Chinese’s top athlete. 

“I definitely couldn’t do this without Steve,” Reeves said. “Everyone needs the right person. Steve knows how to keep it fun. He’s had a lot of years of experience and he knows what he’s doing.”

Meredith Alwine’s performance in Thailand marks the sunsetting of her international career  after seven years and 18 competitions on the international stage. While she’s leaving room for a return, Alwine shared that she’s ready to begin moving on past the sport. 

“I’m happy to be done with this quad. I’m just happy to be done,” Alwine said. “My body just feels like it gave up. I was in the best shape of my life going into [the 2023 World Championships] and then I got hurt and I just didn’t have time to fully heal because we competed every five weeks after that. My body couldn’t do it and it showed on the platform. I feel like we truly left every single kilo on that platform and I’m proud of the fact that I fought on that last attempt and we went out on a positive last attempt.”

“Meredith is someone who I went with on one of her first international meets around 2017 and she’s competed for Team USA at the junior and senior levels with me so I’ve had a very close and special relationship with her,” said Gattone. “She’s somebody who has enjoyed the process of being part of Team USA and traveling and contributing. It’s been really fun to see that but she left it all on the platform on that last clean and jerk and I’m so proud of her.”

Alwine is coached by Danny Camargo who couldn’t make the trip to Thailand due to a personal matter. 

“I really don’t think I could have done it with anybody else,” she said “I’ve had a rough time with coaches through most of my career, but we got together in 2020 and he’s been through all of this quad with me. He’s been that person and he’s believed in me more than I've ever believed in myself or anyone’s ever believed in me, and he gave me a lot of freedom to do this quad the way that I felt like we needed to do it and we were always on the same page and side by side every step of the way. In the bad times and the good times, I literally could not have done this with anybody else.”

Reeves and Alwine have grown close to each other over the years. While the two were competitors in the 71 kg weight class throughout Olympic qualifying, their friendship is larger than the sport. 

“I love Meredith and I’m going to miss competing with her,” said Reeves. “She’s someone who I’ve looked up to and competed with at Worlds. Seeing what she’s been through and knowing what she’s been through makes me very grateful to know her and be her friend.”

“It’s been such a fun time to lift with someone who is so good and to watch her,” Alwine said of Reeves. “It feels full circle because we first competed together internationally at the senior world championships in 2021 and I won there while she was so new and young, and now here I get to watch her win against China and Korea which is so cool. It’s been so cool and such a privilege to get to know her as a person and as a friend and to be able to lift beside her. There’s no one else I’d rather do that with.”