USA Weightlifting Debuts New Selection Procedures In Lead-up To 2024 Olympics
by USA Weightlifting
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Weightlifting today published the athlete selection procedures that will dictate how U.S. weightlifters qualify for international competitions over the next 20 months, specifically leading up to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
For the first time, the new procedures prioritize the specific weight classes that will be contested at the upcoming Olympic Games and the athletes’ likelihood of having success in Paris against the current international field.
Weightlifting meets sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation typically include 10 bodyweight categories for each gender. At the Paris 2024 Games, only five categories per gender will be contested – the smallest number of men’s and women’s weightlifting events in Olympic history.
The philosophy the new document follows is that selection should reflect first and foremost the needs of Olympic qualification of the most likely and highest ranked athletes, followed by the desire for medals in international competition, while providing developing athletes the opportunity for international experience.
“Creating qualification procedures which are both equitable to every competitor, and in alignment with protocols set forth for us by the IWF, is something we strive very hard to accomplish,” said Mike Gattone, USA Weightlifting senior director of sport performance & coaching education. “Since receiving the International Olympic Committee-approved 2024 Olympic Qualification System, as we have always done in the past, we needed to update our method of team selection to match the IWF’s, and also give us the greatest opportunity to put our most likely Paris Olympians into position to qualify.”
Following the 2022 IWF World Championships in December, the first meet that counts toward Olympic qualification, there will be six events between early 2023 and the second quarter of 2024 that Americans will enter to work toward making the 2024 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team.
Selection procedures for all international competitions that do not count toward Olympic qualification – which includes all youth events, junior events and university events, plus senior-level events that are not marked on the IWF calendar as a “Paris 2024 Qual. Event” – remain largely the same as they have been, utilizing the National Ranking Score (NRS) system and encompassing all 10 weight classes per gender. Competitions were intentionally separated so as to not focus only on Olympic qualification.
A change going forward for alternates on all teams is that if a lifter is the third (or greater) ranked athlete in their weight class and cannot be utilized in the next weight class, then the next highest ranked athlete in an available weight class will be named alternate.
When selecting the team for each Olympic qualifier, USA Weightlifting will rank athletes only by the five Olympic weight classes and compared to the IWF Olympic Qualification Ranking. That means at an event such as the 2023 IWF World Championships, a mandatory competition for all Olympic hopefuls, the U.S. team will likely compete in only the Olympic weight classes and be made up of two athletes in each Olympic event. The only time a U.S. team at an Olympic qualifier would differ from that is when an athlete’s performance in a non-Olympic weight class (i.e. women’s 76kg) ranks them so high in the respective Olympic weight class (women’s 81kg in this case) that they are ranked higher than all, or all but one, other Americans who competed at 81 kilograms in that period.
“I appreciate the collaboration of all those involved in this process,” said Erin Andica, weightlifting representative on the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council, USA Weightlifting Board of Directors member and chair of the USA Weightlifting AAC. “The 12-member AAC, which includes Olympians, elite athletes and coaches, worked together with the USAW High Performance Team in reviewing and editing the selection procedure documents, and there was discussion and careful consideration by the board.”
Following the 2023 IWF Grand Prix I, or whichever competition is third chronologically once the Olympic qualifiers have set dates, a complete global pool of weightlifters still eligible to compete at the 2024 Olympics will be known; this is based on how the IWF Olympic qualification system works. From that point on, the new USA Weightlifting selection procedures for the remaining four Olympic qualifiers will first rank the Olympic-eligible athletes and follow those athletes in the ranking by those no longer eligible for the Olympic team.
“After many discussions and approvals, we feel very satisfied and that these new procedures will give us the best opportunity to qualify another strong Olympic team,” Gattone added. “We hope for the best for all our hardworking athletes going into this stressful and important qualification period and stand ready to assist them in the process. Let’s go Team USA.”
USA Weightlifting members are welcome to submit questions regarding the new selection procedures. The Selection Procedures page at usaweightlifting.org will be updated with responses each Wednesday and Friday evening.