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The sport of weightlifting often goes by the name “Olympic weightlifting,” but make no mistake: the competitive calendar doesn’t begin and end at The Games. The USA Weightlifting (USAW) National Championships is one of the most important contests for American lifters, with an estimated 1,400 lifters of all age groups and weight classes showing up to showcase their training and aim for big totals.

The 2020 contest was postponed for six months and ultimately contested online only. This year’s Weightlifting Nationals will feature in-person competition and fans attending to support the masters of the sport. The athletes hope to join the ranks of past Nationals winners such as former CrossFit Games Champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Mattie Rogers, James Tatum, and Nathan Damron.

USA Weightlifting Nationals: The Events

If you’re new to the sport, weightlifting focuses on two lifts that demand the athlete explosively lift a barbell from the ground to overhead: the clean and jerk and the snatch.

Like a powerlifting meet, each athlete gets three attempts to achieve the heaviest lift possible while maintaining proper form. In weightlifting, this means they’re not allowed to “press out” the weight. Once the lifter gets the weight to full lockout, the judge calls for them to drop the weight. If the lift is approved by at least two out of three judges, then it counts.

The heaviest lift of both movements is counted into the athlete’s total. If an athlete is unable to complete one of the lifts successfully, then that athlete is ineligible to win. The athlete with the highest total in his or her weight class is the winner.

USA Weightlifting Nationals: When and Where

The Nationals is sanctioned by USA Weightlifting (USAW), which is a member of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). This year’s event will take place June 25–July 4 at the TCF Center in Detroit, Michigan. An estimated 1,400 athletes are expected to compete across 20 weight classes: 10 for men, 10 for women.

The week-long competition is also going to include the youth, junior, and under 25 National Championships, as well. Here are the dates to mark on your calendar so you can follow along all week.

Youth Nationals: Saturday, June 26–Monday, June 28
National Junior and Under 25 Championships: Tuesday, June 29–Thursday, July 1
USAW National Championships: Friday, July 2–Sunday, July 4

How to Watch: The TCF Center will be open for fans to attend and tickets are available. Fans who can’t be in Michigan but would still like to watch can view the livestream of the competitions in their entirety at USA Weightlifting’s live page.

Athletes to Watch

Thomas Duer

Duer, a 2021 IWF Masters World Champion, was the 2020 Nationals winner in the open 102 kg (224 lbs.) division, but he will be moving up to 109 kg (240 lbs.) this year. That extra weight on his body could also mean extra weight on the bar. He was able to snatch 155 kilograms on his third attempt after missing that weight on his second—no small feat—and still manage 175 kilograms on the clean and jerk for a total of 330 kilograms overall. He’s been showing some impressive lifts on his Instagram feed and has to be considered a favorite going into this year’s contest.

Travis Cooper

Cooper, a longtime standout in the sport, was the 2020 National Champion in the men’s 89 kg division. The Rhode Island native has all intentions of going back to back in Michigan. When he took part in the online Nationals last year, he ran away with the victory with a ballsy performance, missing his first two snatch attempts and then raising the weight for the third and nailing it.

Cicely Kyle

Kyle cruised to a win in nationals last year, totaling 170 kilograms between the two lifts and besting the second-place competitor by nearly 100 pounds. That was in the 45 kg class, but she’ll be a part of the 49 kg division this year. Her Instagram profile shows her easily nailing lifts above her 2020 competition bests, so expect to see her squarely in contention.

Kristi Brewer

Brewer, a former guest on the Bodybuilding.com podcast, will bring her impressive resume to the 59 kg masters division. She is the 2019 Masters World Champion and broke all three world records along the way. She completed a snatch of 83 kg and a 110-kg clean and jerk, which also gave her the world record total for the women’s Masters category of 193 kg. She’s always in the mix for a top spot at the end.

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