Remarkable U.S. Weightlifting Team Announced For 2022 World Championships

by USA Weightlifting

(Photo by USA Weightlifting)


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Weightlifting today announced the impressive U.S. team that will compete at the 2022 IWF World Championships from Dec. 5-16 in Bogotá, Colombia.

Team USA consists of the maximum 20 weightlifters, 19 of whom have medaled internationally at the senior and/or junior levels. The 11 veterans of this meet have a combined 33 prior senior world championships under their belts. Four of the athletes have already medaled at senior worlds and nine are junior world medalists.

Following a 12-year medal drought, the U.S. has been on the podium at each of the past four world championships, including eight-medal hauls scored in both 2017 and 2019.

The Americans will contend not just for podium placements at the sport’s most esteemed annual competition but also for placements on the first iteration of the 2024 Olympic Qualification Ranking. The 2022 World Championships is the first of seven events an athlete can enter that count toward the OQR for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

The U.S. women’s team, which will feature in eight of 10 bodyweight categories and – for the first time in five years – spans from the lightest class to the heaviest, includes:

CiCi Kyle (45kg; Pensacola, Fla.)^
Jourdan Delacruz (49kg; Atlanta, Ga.)*#
Hayley Reichardt (49kg; Leesport, Pa.)^#
Shayla Moore Hutchins (55kg; Jefferson, Ga.)^
Taylor Wilkins (59kg; St. Johns, Fla.)^
Olivia Reeves (71kg; Chattanooga, Tenn.)#
Kate Vibert (71kg; Atlanta, Ga.)*#
Mattie Rogers (81kg; Geneva, Fla.)*
Juliana Riotto (87kg; Fairfield, N.J.)#
Sarah Robles (+87kg; San Jacinto, Calif.)*#
^first senior world championships appearance
#junior world championships medalist

Meredith Alwine (71kg; Altamonte Springs, Fla.) and Laura Alexander (87kg; San Jose, Calif.) are first and second alternate, respectively. The battle to make the women’s world team was so competitive that reigning world champion Alwine’s National Ranking Score this year tied for fourth but with two 71kg lifters ranked ahead of her, and each country unable to enter more than two athletes in a weight class, she will not have the opportunity to defend her title.

The U.S. men’s team, which will compete in six of 10 bodyweight categories and – for the first time in 24 years – does not include any athletes in the heavyweight or super heavyweight classes, is comprised of:

Gabe Chhum (55kg; Hamilton, Ga.)^
Hampton Morris (61kg; Marietta, Ga.)^#
Ryan Grimsland (73kg; Lewisville, N.C.)^#
Jacob Horst (73kg; Leesport, Pa.)
Travis Cooper (81kg; Saunderstown, R.I.)
CJ Cummings (81kg; Beaufort, S.C.)*#
Beau Brown (89kg; Colby, Kan.)^
Nathan Damron (89kg; Los Gatos, Calif.)
Wes Kitts (102kg; Knoxville, Tenn.)*
Ryan Sester (102kg; Gresham, Ore.)^
^first senior world championships appearance
#junior world championships medalist

Derek Beauchamp (89kg; Port Orange, Fla.) and Matthew McCullough (67kg; Houston, Texas), respectively, are first and second alternate.

For the first time in 28 years, the U.S. world team features four lifters who will look to add to their existing medal tallies: Reeves, Robles, Rogers and Vibert, who have amassed 17 senior world medals to date. The last time a U.S. world team featured that many previous medalists was in 1994 when the team included weightlifting greats Robin Byrd-Goad, Sibby Flowers, Arlys Johnson and Mario Martinez.

Six of the nine senior worlds debutants – Brown, Chhum, Kyle, Moore Hutchins, Sester, Wilkins – are also marking their first world championships of any level. Brown, Kyle, Sester and Wilkins, plus 2019 youth/2022 junior world team member Grimsland, all made the 2021 world team but were among those who withdrew just prior to the competition due to Covid-19 concerns.

It's Morris’ senior worlds debut performance, though, that might be the most highly anticipated after he won the 2021 youth world title and 2022 junior world title. At 61kg, he holds three world records (two youth, one junior), all three junior American records and two senior American records, having come within two kilograms of the snatch record.

Ranging from 18-year-old Morris to 37-year-old Kyle, who turns 38 Oct. 12, the team’s average age is 25.6. It has a balance of four junior-level athletes (Chhum, 18; Morris, 18; Reeves, 19; Grimsland, 20) and four athletes in their 30s (Kitts, 32; Cooper, 34; Robles, 34; Kyle, 38).

A quarter of the team claims Georgia as home with 11 states represented among all hometowns: California (2), Florida (3), Georgia (5), Kansas, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee (2).

Eleven members of this squad combine for a whopping 29 current senior American records, while three of the junior-aged athletes account for five of the standing junior American records.

Robles, the 2017 world champion and a two-time Olympic medalist, is far and away most experienced on the team. Bogotá will signify her ninth appearance at senior worlds, dating back to 2009; she is trailed by Rogers, who will compete at her sixth. Cooper and Cummings are the most tenured on the men’s side with four previous appearances apiece.

Rogers holds the title of most decorated with 10 senior world medals earned since 2017, with that number also giving her the title of most decorated American in the Olympic era of women’s weightlifting (2000 on). Her worlds medal streak of four (the event was not held in 2020) is tied for the longest ever by a U.S. woman.

Six of the eight athletes on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team qualified for the 2022 world team (Cummings, Delacruz, Kitts, Robles, Rogers, Vibert), the most U.S. Olympians on a world team in 20 years.

Worlds will be the first international meet in over 16 months for both Cummings and Kitts, with the Tokyo Games being their latest. Cummings has since gone up a weight class, from 73kg to 81kg, while Kitts has gone down from 109kg to 102kg.

Olympic silver medalist and 2019 world champion Vibert will compete abroad for the first time in over a year. After suffering a training injury the week before her scheduled departure for this summer’s Pan American Championships, she had surgery on July 28 to remove 60-70% of her right meniscus. Vibert is expected to make her comeback in the very city she last anticipated competing as Bogotá was chosen to host both the Pan American and world championships this year.

Many of the U.S. athletes headed to worlds have the good fortune of coming off successful performances in the host city. These 10 took home medals at Pan Ams in late July: Delacruz, Horst, Kyle, Moore Hutchins, Morris, Reichardt, Robles, Rogers, Sester, Wilkins. Grimsland and Reeves also earned international hardware this year with theirs coming in May at the IWF Junior World Championships.

Bogotá was the second Pan Ams in a row where Reichardt and Horst both medaled. The significance? They have been dating for more than eight years. Next up, that same city will mark the high school sweethearts’ first senior world team together; they were also on the 2017 junior world team together. After five total youth and junior worlds appearances, where she earned three medals, this is Reichardt’s first senior world team.

Chhum, the only lifter on this team who has yet to earn an international medal, has quite simply yet to compete internationally. After entering his first local weightlifting meet in November 2021, the 18-year-old set the junior and senior American clean & jerk records in June 2022 to earn his place on the world team and mark the first time in five years a U.S. world team has featured an athlete in the lightest men’s weight class. He will make his Team USA debut at the Junior Pan American Championships in October in Lima, Peru, before returning to South America less than six weeks later for worlds.

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