The New IWF Bodyweight Categories Didn’t Do Mattie Rogers Any Favors

Mattie Rogers at the 2017 USAW National Championships. Photo courtesy of Lifting Life.
Mattie Rogers at the 2017 USAW National Championships. Photo courtesy of Lifting Life.

Mattie Rogers is probably the most well-known Olympic weightlifter in the United States. Rogers narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics in 2016, but she has probably garnered more national attention than even Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles.

Rogers competes in the 69kg bodyweight category and holds all three American Senior records in that weight class. Those records will soon not matter as the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) will be ratifying the rules with new bodyweight categories later this week.

Mattie Rogers at USAW National University Championships
Photo credit: O’Keefe Photography

And for Rogers, these new bodyweight categories are not good for her. In fact, they probably affect her more than any other American female weightlifter who is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

The 69kg weight category that Rogers has competed in will be eliminated. The nearest categories are down to 64kg and up to 71kg in IWF-sponsored events. However, the Olympic bodyweight categories get even weirder for athletes like Rogers. The 71kg category is taken out in the Olympics, meaning Rogers would have to compete as a 64kg lifter or a 76kg lifter.

For some in the 69kg weight class, the bump to 71kg provides some relief from having to cut an extra 2kg in the weeks leading up to competition. But for Rogers, she generally does not have a working weight well above her competing weight. And then it won’t even matter for the Olympics where she will have to cut weight significantly or compete against women 7kg higher than she is today.

Could Rogers move down to 64kg? Possibly. Rogers competed as a 63kg lifter in her early days as a junior lifter. But in recent years Rogers moved up to the 69kg weight class where she has dominated the rest of the American field.

The good news is…there are still two years until the Olympics to sort all of this out. The bad news is that this will significantly change the landscape of Olympic weightlifting for some of the top athletes.