Breaking Down The Women's Olympic Trials

The women’s US Olympic Trials will be held on the last day of competition at the USA National Championships. With Jenny Arthur's spot locked in and Sarah Robles' spot essentially untouchable, just one of Team USA's three spots is up for grabs in a very tight race. 

Here's the current start list for the women's Olympic Trials:

  1. Sarah Robles
  2. Marissa Klingseis
  3. Holley Mangold
  4. Jenny Arthur
  5. Mattie Rogers
  6. Jessie Bradley
  7. Jessica Phillips
  8. Ariel Stephens
  9. Jessica Lucero
  10. Mary Peck
  11. Cortney Batchelor
  12. Melanie Roach
  13. Morghan King
  14. Kathleen Winters
  15. Kelly Rexroad-Williams
Thanks to their performances in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships, the US women earned three spots for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Arthur was first named to the women’s team back in January via Path 1 (honoring the athlete who scored the highest number of points in the previous two World Championships). The other two spots will be decided based on Path 2, the “Ability To Medal” (ATM) standard. Although 15 of the nation’s top female lifters will compete for those two spots, the real competition will be for the third and final spot between the four women with the highest ATM percentage. On February 22, 2016, USA Weightlifting (USAW) posted this breakdown of the 2016 Olympic Games' Path 2: ATM Ranking List.


Based on the Path 2 (ATM) statistics, it was apparent that Robles had all but secured the second spot on the women’s Olympic team. A previous member of the 2012 US Olympic Team with extensive national and international experience, Robles is currently ranked by the International Weightlifting Federation as No. 10 worldwide in the 75+ category. Since returning to competition after a two-year suspension, she has dominated the national scene, set two American records, and performed well at Worlds with a 279kg total, which helped earn important points toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

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Seeing that the second spot has been all but secured by Robles, the bigger question is, “Who will be the third woman on Team USA?” Looking at the ATM standards, there are really only a few women capable of attaining this third spot. It will come down to Mattie Rogers (69kg), Morghan King (48kg), Kathleen Winters (48kg), and Jessica Lucero (58kg) to battle it out for the final spot.

Mattie Rogers

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Mattie Rogers’ juggernaut of a performance at Nationals Juniors, where she went six-for-six and set all three senior American records for the 69 kg category, has positioned her as a strong favorite. Rogers will enter these Olympic Trials with remarkable momentum — she has performed increasingly better in each competition she has entered, and more importantly, as a heavier lifter, she will know the numbers her lighter competitors have scored. By virtue of lifting after them, she will know the numbers she needs to hit to secure this spot. Rogers is predicted to surpass her previous American records (105kg snatch /133kg clean and jerk, and 238kg total) with a 110kg snatch, 135kg clean and jerk, and a 245kg total. This will give her an ATM score of 95.553, which is still not enough to beat Robles, but a very strong performance nonetheless. This outcome would likely make Rogers the third 2016 US Olympic Team member. It will be very difficult to beat her, but not impossible.

Morghan King

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Morghan King, who actually qualified in both the 53kg and 48kg weight categories, has a real shot at that third spot as well. Her ATM is higher as a 48kg, which is the category she will compete in during the Trials. King is capable of big numbers, and she could score a 79kg snatch and 100kg clean and jerk for a 179kg total. These numbers are still lighter than the current American records (82.5kg snatch, 102.5kg clean and jerk, 185kg total by Tara Nott), but they would give her an ATM of 95.927 to potentially edge out Rogers. Morghan King appears to have the best chance of beating Rogers for that final spot.

Kathleen Winters

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Another strong contender is 48kg lifter Kathleen Winters, who matched her all-time best total of 165kg at Worlds. She has lots of national and international experience, and recently added several kilos to her total, which is now neck-and-neck with King's. She would also need a 179kg total for that third spot on team USA. These two 48kg women will battle it out with Rogers for the third spot.

Jessica Lucero

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Finally, we have Jessica Lucero, who has really been on the rise. Coming off a first-place finish in last year’s USAW Nationals, she delivered another solid performance at Worlds with a 199kg total. She also increased her total in local meets and seems poised for another very competitive showing. She would need to greatly increase her current best total of 199kg to 220kg to score an ATM of 95.556, which would put her ahead of Rogers' projected score. This would be a very tall order for Lucero, but do not count her out. Anything can happen, and we will all just have to wait and see what happens on May 8.

So, who’s it going to be?

Jenny Arthur secured her spot as the first named team member of the 2016 women’s Olympic Weightlifting Team. Sarah Robles has all but punched her ticket to Rio as well, and will most likely have another great showing during the Trials for a second consecutive trip to the Olympics. Will King, Winters, or Lucero have enough to move ahead of Rogers in the hunt for that final spot? In less than one month, we will know which three names have earned those highly coveted spots on the women’s Olympic weightlifting team to represent Team USA in Rio.

Reporting contributed by Colin Manuel Crane of Stronger Training and Nomad Barbell Club

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