Largest Participation Strength Event Ever Comes To Columbus
by USA Weightlifting
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A record-breaking number of athletes converge on Ohio’s capital city March 3-6 to compete in the 2022 North American Open Series 1 and 2022 National University Championships, part of the annual Arnold Sports Festival.
Anticipated to be ratified by Guinness World Records, the spectacle features 1,866 competing athletes, significantly more than have ever before participated in a strength event. The previous record holder, the 2018 American Open Series 3 in Las Vegas, had 1,561 registered athletes.
Of those entered, 1,558 are competing in #22NAOS1 and 317 in #22UniNats with nine registered for both.
“Returning to a full-fledged Arnold with world record levels of participation almost two years to the day since the world shut down feels invigorating,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said. “We are delighted to see so many people taking to the platform for this historic occasion and displaying the continued growth of Olympic weightlifting. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to Columbus Weightlifting, the Arnold Sports Festival and of course the army of volunteers that make this possible.”
All 147 sessions will be streamed at usaw.live with commentary provided during every “A” session, plus several others.
The event is so massive it requires six platforms, also a first in the sport’s history, and is being held at the Celeste Center for the first time. The Gold platform, which was named via fan submission and a series of votes that took place on USA Weightlifting’s social media, joins the Red, White, Blue, Stars and Stripes platforms.
A seventh platform will also be utilized on the afternoon of Friday, March 4, for the two Rogue Strength Sessions taking place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The talented athletes competing in those sessions boast a combined 24 Pan American Championships appearances.
The 1 p.m. ET Rogue Strength Men’s Session includes Beau Brown (Colby, Kan.), CJ Cummings (Beaufort, S.C.), Nathan Damron (Pittsburg, Calif.), Jacob Horst (Leesport, Pa.), Caleb Goodman (Mechanicsville, Va.), Ryan Grimsland (Lewisville, N.C.), Hampton Morris (Marietta, Ga.), Brian Reisenauer (Claremore, Okla.), Christian Rodriguez Ocasio (Hayward, Calif.), Tyler Schade (Philadelphia, Pa.), Ryan Sester (Gresham, Ore.) and Jordan Wissinger (Hamburg, Pa.), while the 3 p.m. ET Rogue Strength Women’s Session features Meredith Alwine (Virginia Beach, Va.), Tiffany Beaupre (Barre, Mass.), Jourdan Delacruz (Wylie, Texas), Shayla Moore (Jefferson, Ga.), Maddison Pannell (Pittsburg, Calif.), Angelique Reed (Coppell, Texas), Olivia Reeves (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Hayley Reichardt (Leesport, Pa.), Julianna Riotto (Fairfield, N.J.), Mary Theisen-Lappen (Eau Claire, Wis.), Gretchen Villa (Mesa, Ariz.) and Kate Wehr (Kutztown, Pa.).
Columbus marks the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for both the 2022 Pan American Championships team (July 22-30) and 2022 IWF Youth World Championships team (June 11-18). It is also the sole qualifier for the 2022 FISU America Games team (October).
More women (977) than men (889) will compete in a field that spans 69 years in age. Nine-year-old Katelyn Foster (Terrell, Texas), who is 10 in weightlifting years, is the youngest entrant while 78-year-old Kathleen Hawkins (Fairborn, Ohio), who is 79 in the sport, possesses the most life experience.
Six lifters from the eight-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team are competing: Cummings, Delacruz, Kate Nye (Berkley, Mich.), Sarah Robles (San Jacinto, Calif.), Mattie Rogers (Geneva, Fla.), Caine Wilkes (Matthews, N.C.). This is two-time Olympic medalist Robles’ first in-person meet on U.S. soil in 17 months. Wilkes returns to the stage for the first time since the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and marks his inaugural masters meet.
Athletes hail from 48 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia (2), Canada (4), Switzerland (1) and Ukraine (1). California has the greatest number of entrants with 158, followed closely by Florida’s 152. Texas (129), Ohio (127) and Pennsylvania (124) round out the five most represented states.
The women’s 64kg bodyweight category has the most athletes with 194 – so many that it needs an unprecedented “O” session; the 2018 American Open Series 3 went as deep as an “M” session (for the same weight class).
More information, including the complete schedule, start lists and results, is available on the USA Weightlifting event page.