James Tatum took the platform in the 85kg weight class today at the Pan-American Championships. The men’s team is fighting for one of seven spots to the Olympics. Entering today, the men’s team only had one score posted, Travis Cooper’s 6th place finish in the 77kg weight class.
With Alex Lee going 0-for-3 in the snatch and failing to score points for the team and Norik Vardanian not competing due to a back injury, the rest of the team has no room for error.
Tatum failed his first snatch at 145kg. He came back with a successful second lift at 145kg and then followed with a 150kg third lift, good for 6th place. During the clean and jerk, Tatum started with a successful 175kg lift and continued the momentum with 180kg on the second attempt. In a bid to earn a bronze medal, Tatum bumped his final lift up to 188kg, but was unable to hit the lift. The 150 / 180 // 330 total was good for 6th place and 20 points for Team USA.
Tatum’s placement bumps Team USA up one spot from 13th to 12th, but the separation between 7th place (final qualifying spot) and Team USA is now 40 points. With one more day remaining, the final three weight classes take the platform. Team USA has four lifters left to compete. Unless a few teams bomb out, it looks like it will take at least 120 points to reach a qualifying position. That means the men will have to average at least 6th or 7th place finishes the rest of the way.