What Will the Next Quad in USA Weightlifting Look Like?

CJ Cummings at 2016 Olympic Trials
Photo Credit: Lifting Life (Andrew Blaida)

USA Weightlifting (USAW) earned its first Olympic medal in 16 years when Sarah Robles took home the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the +75kg weight class. There is no doubt that weightlifting in the United States has come a long way in just a few years. With larger numbers competing in weightlifting events across the country and more success on the international stage, where could the United States be in the next “Quad”?

Before that question can be answered, it’s important to take a look at how far weightlifting in the States has come over the past four years. The table below shows the winning total for each weight class at the 2012 USAW National Championships compared to the winning total at this year’s National Championships.

Weight Class 2012 Winning Total 2016 Winning Total
56kg 221
Darren Barnes
Darren Barnes
62kg 251
Darrel Barnes
Jacob Horst
69kg 294
Caleb Williams
Alex Lee
77kg 325
Chad Vaughn
Travis Cooper
85kg 355
Kendrick Farris
James Tatum
94kg 344
Ian Wilson
Kendrick Farris
105kg 370
Donald Shankle
Wesley Kitts
+105kg 380
Pat Mendes
Caine Wilkes


Weight Class 2012 Winning Total 2016 Winning Total
48kg 138
Ellen Kercher
Morghan King
53kg 153
Jacque Payne
Caitlin Hogan
58kg 197
Amanda Sandoval
Jessica Lucero
63kg 192
Ashley Perkovich
Mary Peck
69kg 200
Danica Rue
Mattie Rogers
75kg 200
Jamia Jackson
Jenny Arthur
+75kg 258
Sarah Robles
Marissa Klingseis


It is interesting that the men’s winning totals only increased significantly in a couple weight classes. For some, however, they actually decreased. So while the number of athletes competing increased and more are competing at a higher level, the total weight to win a weight class has not increased as much as you might have expected for the men.

On the women’s side, things are slightly different. With the exception of the +75kg weight class, there has quite a bit of improvement over the past four years. Robles did not total at the 2016 Nationals, but did post a 286kg total to win the bronze medal at the Olympics. The growth on the women’s side can probably be attributed to the growth in the sport as well as more acceptance of weightlifting for females.

It is also interesting to see how few names were able to repeat as national champions four years apart. Only Kendrick Farris (3-time Olympian) and Darren Barnes were able to do so. Many of the athletes who won in 2012 didn’t even compete in 2016 so to guess who the favorites are to represent the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is near impossible.

Let’s now take a look at how much the four 2016 US Olympians improved over the course of four years.

Athlete 2012  2016 Improvement
Kendrick Farris 355 (85kg)
377 (94kg)
+22kg (+6.2%)
Morghan King 139 (53kg)
American Open
183 (48kg)
+44kg (+31.7%)
Jenny Arthur 197 (69kg)
242 (75kg)
+45kg (+22.8%)
Sarah Robles 258 (+75kg)
286 (+75kg)
+28kg (+10.9%)


The improvement of each of these athletes is impressive and just shows that someone who finished in the middle of the pack at this year’s Nationals could be competing for a spot on the Olympic team in 2020. The rise in popularity and number of teens competing in the sport lend itself to having athletes who may not be household names rising to that level over the next several years.

It will be interesting to watch the progression of the sport in the United States and whether the momentum can be carried into the next Quad. Athletes like CJ Cummings, Mattie Rogers, Nathan Damron and Hayley Reichardt are on the radar, but who else might pop onto the scene? The next generation of weightlifters will be seen at the 2016 IWF Youth World Championships next month in Penang, Malaysia.