Katie Estep Adds Junior Weightlifting World Championships Hardware To Her Youth Collection
by USA Weightlifting
HERAKLION, Greece – Katie Estep (59kg; Auburn, Wash.) overcame injuries, a weight category change and surprising misses to win gold and silver medals in the women’s 59kg bodyweight category Wednesday at the 2022 IWF Junior World Championships in Heraklion, Greece.
Adding to the medals earned by Leila Cook (55kg; Chicago, Ill.) and Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.) on Tuesday, USA Weightlifting has now matched its number of medalists (three) and number of medals for the total (two) from the 2021 IWF Junior World Championships -- with five days of competition remaining.
In 2021, Estep won 55kg gold at the Youth World Championships (also setting two youth world records), Junior Pan American Games and Youth Pan American Championships.
The 17-year-old transitioned her enormous success as a youth lifter to the junior stage on the island of Crete, winning the junior world snatch title with a lift of 91kg – a two-kilogram competition personal record – and the silver medal with a 200kg total – breaking the junior American record and achieving another two-kilogram PR.
This marked Estep’s first meet lifting at 59kg after spending her entire career in the 55kg category (and 53kg, or 48kg and 58kg once apiece, before the classes changed in 2018), and, despite her youth accomplishments she did not think the podium was within reach after moving up a class and having taken time off for recent wrist and elbow injuries.
“It was getting more difficult to cut down to 55kg, so for long-term goals I thought I would move up,” Estep said. “I also wanted to work on getting stronger and I felt 55 was preventing that.”
She went three for three in the snatch (85kg, 88kg, 91kg) to secure the win in that lift, then struggled through her clean & jerks; her elbow touched her knee on the clean at her first 109kg attempt, then her second was ruled no lift by press-out. Estep made her final attempt at that weight, which matches her PR, to place seventh in the clean & jerk.
“It was difficult,” said Estep, who will begin courses at the University of Washington in the fall. “I was kind of freaking out, and then I had to realize that you just have to make it. It’s definitely a difficult mindset you have to put yourself in. I knew I could make it. Trust yourself.”
Daphne Guillen Vazquez of Mexico won both the total (203kg) and clean & jerk (114kg) gold medals, while Colombia’s Tatiana Mosquera Caceres Karen took the snatch silver (90kg) and total bronze (199kg) competing from the B session.
“Coming into this meet, I just wanted to do the best I could,” Estep explained. “It wasn’t about hitting a number or medaling, and I think that’s what really helped me: going out here to have fun. That’s my biggest takeaway, is when you’re so consumed over numbers and medals, I feel like you just don’t do as well.”
A mere one kilogram off the podium was Team USA’s Meaghan Strey (59kg; Auburn, Wash.) with a total of 198kg. Both Estep and Strey are coached by Kevin Simons out of Alpha Barbell in Pacific, Washington.
“It definitely was not my best meet, however, having probably the worst day and still coming in fourth, there’s something to be said about that,” Strey reflected. “I should be proud of myself for not bombing out on clean & jerk and coming out here and making a total, even if I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it. I can be happy with that.”
Strey, 19, had successful snatches of 86kg and 89kg before pulling 92kg behind her; that third attempt would have increased her own junior American record by one kilo. She was fifth in the snatch. Like Estep, Strey had uncharacteristic misses on her first two clean & jerks (108kg), unable to make the clean both times. She gave herself more time on the clock by increasing to 109kg, which she made to place sixth in that lift and give herself a total that was one kilo shy of the junior American record she had set two months to the day prior.
“I would definitely say my technique was better today than it was at the Arnold,” Strey said, referring to the March meet where she had set two of the junior American records, “even if I didn’t total as much.”
A silver medalist at last year’s inaugural Junior Pan American Games, this was Strey’s world championship debut at any level. The former gymnast has been in weightlifting less than four years.
Earlier in the day, Mario Marquez (67kg; Mission, Texas) also made his world debut.
After back injuries left him with just one month to prepare for the biggest meet of his life to date, Marquez had an impressive showing when he was perfect in the snatch (113kg, 117kg and 121kg to match his personal best) and made his first two clean & jerk attempts (145kg, 150kg) before missing 155kg, which would have given him a new total PR, on the jerk. His total of 271kg was good for seventh place.
“It’s been a while since I held anything more than 150kg over my head, for injury reasons,” Marquez said of the injury he incurred in January that rendered him unable to lift the bar for three months.