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The Bright Future of USA Weightlifting: Mattie Rogers

You may have seen Mattie Rogers lighting up the world weightlifting stage in recent years. You may even be one of her 476,000+ Instagram followers. Already World University, American Open, National University, and National Champion, what’s certain is that this 22-year-old is destined for even bigger things in the sport. The question is, how far can she go at the 2017 IWF World Championships in Anaheim next week? We spoke to Mattie ahead of her trip to California to find out how she got into weightlifting, her pain at missing out on Rio 2016, and what it means to be the inspiration of a new generation of female athletes.  Welcome to weightlifting Born in Apopka, Florida, Mattie Rogers entered the world of sport in a traditional way. “I started gymnastics aged 2, and carried on with it for 10-12 years,” she recalls. Later came competitive cheerleading. Weightlifters may scoff at this, but those in the know understand cheerleading requires immense strength, coordination and flexibility – three things fundamental to Olympic lifting. This, as well as the gymnastics, served as a great foundation when she discovered weights. “I think gymnastics helped me the most,” Mattie says. “It developed my basic overall strength and coordination from a young age.” At just 17, Mattie became enamoured with the rapidly emerging sport of CrossFit, and it was through this that she began to reveal a talent for Olympic lifting. “I actually felt I wasn’t particularly good at lifting weights,” she remembers. “I preferred the bodyweight movements that echoed my days as a gymnast.  But what I loved about weightlifting, and still love, is how technical it is – how you must focus on the small things to get that edge.” CrossFit soon took a backseat to lifting. And as for cardio? Well… “we weightlifters laugh at the thought of cardio!”  The Olympic dream In 2016, Mattie’s hopes of making the USA Olympic Team were crushed at Trials. Jenny Arthur, Sarah Robles and Morghan King were selected to represent their country at Rio, leaving Mattie deflated. “I was very bitter for a very long time,” she admits, “but not with anyone but myself.” Did this put an end to her dream of competing at the next Olympics? Far from it. “To go and sit in the stands and watch what I could have been doing has motivated me to be smarter this time around.” And with time comes experience. Mattie has learned that to perform on the world stage, she doesn’t need to be on peak form for all four years of the quad. “By the time of the Rio Olympic Trials, I was burned out by overtraining. Now, I know I don’t have to reach my peak until the performances that really count,” she explains. 2017 World Champion? Before Tokyo 2020 Trials become a reality, there is the small matter of competing at this year’s IWF World Championships. Mattie enters Anaheim with a total of 239kg, just below Egypt’s impressive Sara Samir Ahmed, Taipei’s Wang-Tung Hung, and Colombia’s Leidy Solís (of whom Mattie is a big fan and against whom she will be competing in the Female 69kg). This category might appear to be a stacked card, so Mattie will have to reach her peak and use the energy of the crowd to be in with a chance of a medal. With the Championships taking place in California, the USA team can expect a warm reception and fantastic support. For Mattie, some extra encouragement is on hand. “My mom is coming to watch me lift for thefirst time,” she says with a smile.  [caption id="attachment_20580" align="aligncenter" width="530"] Image: FloElite[/caption] Inspiring female athletes Does Mattie feel the pressure of responsibility? “I don’t think anyone should compare themselves to anyone else,” Mattie says. “People probably see me on social media as an unconventional type of girl, and I hope that inspires them not to worry about what other people think and to simply do their own thing.” The female roster for the 2017 World Championships is impressive, and is indicative of increased female participation in the sport as a whole. As more women enjoy greater exposure in the discipline, the spotlight will naturally fall upon the biggest personalities. With a social media following worthy of the biggest sports stars, Mattie Rogers is certainly one of these. -- Follow Mattie's progress at the 2017 International Weightlifting World Championships next week on IWF social channels. Follow us on: Facebook Instagram Twitter

Interview with HUANG Ting 2015 Youth World Champion

A Talent and Training Program was launched by the Chinese Weightlifting Association and Chinese Weightlifting Teams last summer where 12 athletes and 4 coaches were selected to participate. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile co., ltd. (SGMW, Wuling & Baojun) long term-partner of Chinese Weightlifting Association and Chinese Weightlifting Teams, gave support to this great initiative promoting Youth and Junior athletes participation in weightlifting. Athletes aged from 8 to 17 participated in a Weightlifting Summer and Training Camp. Among them, HUANG Ting (CHN) who participated in her first International Competition on the occasion of the 2015 IWF Youth World Championships Lima, PER. Winning the Youth World Champion title in the Women’s 63kg bodyweight category, she answered some questions: How was your experience and what did you learned from the program? It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot. Through this Talent Program, I became more mature than before. A real plus was also the fact that immediately after, I had the opportunity to go to train with the National Team. I trained 3 months in the National Team, and that gave me an aim for the future. Before the Program, I had no precise idea about what will happen, but it made my future dream clear. Were you expecting the Medals? Two weeks ago I attended a Qualification event for the 1st Youth and Junior National Games and only ranked 11th with a big difference compared to the winner. I kind of lost confidence, but the Sport Authorities and Team convinced me about the fact that I was still young, had talent and still a lot of time to improve! This is the first time I participate in World Championships. I did not think much about the competition or the result, I hoped to do my best, and actually this is what happened. The result achieved here is my Personal Best! That makes me happy. How was the experience with the National Team? During the 3 months period with the National Team, I found life boring. Girls my age need entertainment, but I kept focus, concentrated on training and tried to discipline myself. The next 5-12 month leading up to the Youth and Junior National Games will be about practicing and trying to get better results in order not to disappoint my coach! It is important for me to truly incorporate everything I learn in the National Team. I hope I will be able to officially integrate the National Team as member. The senior athletes helped you out when needed? All of them helped a lot and gave me useful advices. The best ones were related to my technique – how to correct my moves. I believe I still have some week points where I can improve, and usually after the training we have some more time to practice the technical specificities of my Clean and Jerk. All the National Team athletes and Coaches are very helpful and gave a lot of guidance. Who is your favorite lifter? LIAO Hui!!! I wish that one day I can become such a model for the youth as well as a well-known star just like him. He is successful and such a bright talent. What do your parents think about what you do? They are very supportive, even though they don’t know much about the sport. My mother told me “If this is what you want and what you like doing, we will support you always”. What do you do in your free time? I practice calligraphy! I have a special notebook for that purpose. Any plans for the future? I wouldn’t think too much about it. It is better to keep the dream deep in my heart and follow step by step. But of course I would love to step on the podium of the Olympic Games one

Moldova: a turbulent year and the promises of youth

Memorable Moment by Natalia Donets In 2011 the admirers of Moldovan weightlifting could see extraordinary achievements, visible progress and unexplainable traumas; although it would be hard to pick one moment to stand out above all others, it’s certain 2011 was remarkably unlike the other pre-Olympic qualification runs that Moldovan weightlifters have experienced to date. Hopes for the year were high after the European Championship in Kazan. Oleg Sirghi returned home with two gold medals in clean and jerk (56 kg), Anatolie Ciricu became the overall silver medalist (94 kg), while Ghenadie Dudoglo scooped a bronze in snatch (56 kg)… 2011 also gave another proof that Moldovan weightlifting has a promising new generation of athletes to support and encourage. The names of the likes of Cristina Iovu, Artiom Pipa, Iurie Dudoglo, Gheorghe Cernei and others are likely to be heard of for a long while yet. The European Junior and U-23 championship gave a full proof to that, when Moldovan weightlifters returned home from Bucharest with a record-breaking 15 medals: 8 gold, 6 silvers and one bronze. For the first time ever the Moldovan team occupied the second spot in the Championship rankings. The run-up to the junior’s was emotional. This year, just once have the young Moldovan weightlifters stopped a mere step away from the podium. Cristina Iovu, forerunner of Moldovan female weightlifting and a hopeful to reach the London Olympics, was the fourth at the U-20 World Championships. Iovu, Artem Pipa and Gheorghe Cernei became the fourth at the Shenzhen University Games… In dire training conditions, when the halls are out of order and there are not enough modern weights for every athlete, the progress of each athlete is an amazing effort in itself. The London Olympics are just around the corner, yet thus far Moldova does not have any secured weightlifting quotas. The performance of the Moldovan team at the Paris World Championship became a discouraging continuation for the winning series and a disappointment for the national Federation and the sporting community of Moldova. Four weightlifters were injured, no female quotas earned and the best result of the team was 8th place earned by Anatolie Ciricu. Four quotas earned at the 2010 World Championship were not confirmed, thus making this year’s Championship in Antalya decisive for the fate of Moldovan Olympic hopefuls. Hopefully, 2012 will be the year of correcting mistakes and shortcomings. Natalia Donets AIPS young

Jean Luc Rougé: Top lifters in focus

One of the most respected French sportsmen Jean-Luc Rougé, judo World Champion (1975). Nowadays he works as General Secretary of International Judo Federation. “There is no sport without weightlifting, he said. I remember very well how many tons I had to snatch during my career as a competitive judoka. I profited a lot gaining more and more muscles. Judo is about power and speed in all movements and weightlifting supported us very much to achieve top qualities.” Q: What kind of impressions did you collect during the world championships in Paris? A: As a fan of this sport I specially admire the atmosphere around strong men and women. I represent another combat sport and I know well strength is not enough. This is the reason why I try to study the psychological aspect of weightlifting. It was interesting to follow top stars’ methods how they built up their performance. All the phases are very interesting one by one. These all makes weightlifting extraordinary attractive. Q: What element did attract you most? A: The champions' human character, their personality, how they try to overcome all difficulties, how they correct their possible mistakes in movements. Top lifters really represent art in sport. Weightlifting was always proud of its classical champions. I wish your sport more and more superstars in the future filled by exceptional talent, capacity and emotions’ he

The strongest Syrian’s medal dream

Ahed Joughili (27) is the most famous Syrian weightlifter, who competed in the 105 kg bodyweight category at the Olympics in 2008. Joughili’s first international success was winning a gold medal at the2006 Asian Games in Doha. He claimed both gold medals for the 105 kg snatch and clean and jerk at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Pescara. Q: How can a boy become a weightlifter in Syria? A: It is not uncommon in Syria at all, as we have about 15 clubs in the country and relatively a great number of people find this sport interesting to practice. The problem comes from the fact of missing professional coaches and low capacity in administration comparing to developing number of men intend to join groups of weightlifters in Syria. I should say, besides football, wrestling and boxing, weightlifting’s popularity is growing. The village I was born, Hama, is one of the centers of this sport in Syria. Nowadays we have two hundred lifters to practice here day by day. Q: What is your personal story falling in love with barbells? A: I started my weightlifting trainings in 2000. I know at age of 16 it was a little bit late to start but I was really strong and the gap quickly disappeared. After ten months of training I was able to improve my clean and jerk result as 175 kg. Many said I was a talented guy and I believed in them. Five years later I had my first results on international podium as well. I won a silver medal (clean and jerk), bronze (snatch) at the Mediterranean Games. His coach Dimitar Stoikov (BUL) has been working in Syria since 2010. He had very famous lifters under his leadership, such as Sevdalin Marinov, Asen Zlatev for four, Milan Dobrev for two years. “We started to work together with Ahed 16 months ago” he said. “I think this guy is extremely strong and I am sure if he started his training sessions in one of the traditionally powerful countries of weightlifting, let me put in Russia or China, he already could have been an Olympic Champion. He has a very good body construction, physically strong and under professional training he has a lot of reserve to develop.” Q: What is your motivation for the London Olympics? A: First of all I must grab the chance to enter the Games. I suppose due to my rapid recent progress; my 12th position achieved in Beijing will not be difficult to surpass. In 2008 As I remember at that time I was very nervous and as a result I had only one successful attempt in snatch and one, namely the very last one, in clean and jerk. I wish those nerve-racking moments never return. Our minimum aim for London is to be ranked among the best six, but the final dream is a podium position occupied. Q: What support can you expect from your family? A: My father is close to 70 but still works as a farmer everyday. He wants me to stop training and help him with his job. He wants even to pay me more than I can earn as a lifter. We have a big family with ten children, six boys and four girls. I myself have two daughters. The first one is called Pescara to remember my first victory at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara in 2009. She was born at that time. Our other daughter is five months old. Lucky she was not born during the time of the London Games. Q: How did you respond to your father? Will you stop training if your dream, to win a medal, will come true? A: No I am not ready yet to stop weightlifting. I am still hungry for further

Baranyai never collapses

12,162,110… this figure is actually two million more than Hungary’s total population. But that is just how many clicks the Youtube video of the Weightlifting Accident of Hungarian János Baranyai at the 2008 Beijing Olympics has at the moment. There must be numerous other videos that have been watched more than a million times possibly over 20 million. But this tragic incident of János Baranyai saw him rise to become one of the most famous Hungarian athletes ever in sporting history. His first Olympics ended in agony when he dislocated his right elbow in the snatch competition. Many might have thought he would not return to weightlifting. But he did! In 2010,he took part in the European Championships, and began dreaming of the next Olympic games – London 2012. So for a famous sportsman like him preparing for the biggest sporting fiesta-the Olympics, after such an unpleasant incident and a remarkable comeback to the sport-he must have it all as he prepares for the games. But you are totally wrong! In January, 2011 when Baranyai started preparing for the European Championships his best bet was his own garage. “My club didn’t pay the dues, so that I couldn’t use the gym. So I transformed my garage into a gym. It was supposed to be a temporary solution, but it became a long-term one. I did all my trainings before the European Champs in that garage.” It was surprising that he actually managed a fifth place finish in Kazan. In clean and jerk he missed the podium by a whisker ranking fourth but still managed to break a ten-year old national record. It makes you wonder, what would have managed had he all the equipment and facilities at his disposal? So does he…. “I think the podium in one of the major events is not that far for me. If I could prepare without any financial worries, I could probably win a medal,” he noted. Clearly it could be more difficult for him to access the proper conditions than attain the Olympic gold. At the moment Baranyai does not have any job, even a sporting job, he is actually unemployed. He gets some support from the federation, but it’s still far from a normal athlete’s life. “I stay at home, I live with my family in Orosháza. I think without my parents’ support I would not be able to go on.” But he does so far, and he really wants to qualify for the London Olympics, despite the bad memories of the last Games. “It was still one of the greatest experience in my life!” He does not lose his sense of humour and his positive way of thinking, just to show that if he misses the 2012 Games he will not collapse. “I’ll go for Rio 2016 then!” he cuts in, hoping that instead of being famous by an injury he can get known for his performance. Bence Mohay