What Happened At The Olympic Trials?

By now, everyone knows the results of the past weekend's Olympic Trials, but not everyone fully understands how and why everything played out the way it did. 

Here's an in-depth look at Mattie Rogers, Sarah Robles, and Morghan King's performances; their strategies; and why Mattie Rogers didn't make it onto the Olympic team.

How the Olympic Trials work

USA Weightlifting’s selection process is not the clearest, most fan-friendly approach. Although I’ve explored this in-depth before, I’m going to provide a quick refresher.

The women’s team earned three spots at the 2016 Olympics based on their performances in the 2014 and 2015 Weightlifting World Championships. Jenny Arthur’s spot on the Olympic team was awarded based on her performances at 2014 and 2015 Worlds, which left two remaining women’s spots for Team USA.

Those two spots would be awarded to the athletes with the best chance at earning Olympic medals. That ranking was determined by comparing the athletes’ top totals (from the 2015 World Championships; the 2015 American Open; the 2016 Senior Trials; or the Olympic Trials) to the average third-place total from 2011 Worlds, the 2012 Olympics, and 2013-2015 Worlds.

The rankings going into Trials


Arthur was fourth overall, but her spot was already secured. The top two women would be named to the Olympic team—going into the Trials, those two were Robles (based on her 279 total at the 2015 World Championships) and Rogers (based on her 238 total from the 2016 Junior Nationals/Senior Trials). 

You can see how this ranking is determined by looking at the far-right columns. The “Total” column shows the best total the athlete has registered in recent large meets. The “OG/100%” column averages the third place finishes mentioned above, and the “%” column is the number used to actually determine the ranking. The higher the percentage (as in, the closer the athlete’s total is to a bronze medal finish), the better the chance of the athlete earning a medal.

The Trials were the last chance for these athletes to register a total and increase their ranking, but if they didn’t put up a total or totaled less at Trials, their previous total still remained. This became an important detail for Robles.

The Snatch session

The snatches were all about setting up these athletes for success. We already had an idea that the top three heading into Trials were Robles, Rogers, and King. With only two spots available, they were expected to put up huge lifts and take big risks to try to increase their ranking as much as possible.

Before any lifting starts, the athletes must declare their first attempts in the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. While they can change them later, these first attempts can help us predict what they’re shooting for and allows them to play mind games with their competitors.

Here’s what would've happened to the ranking if Robles, Rogers, and King hit their declared openers:

  • Morghan King: 

    • 84/100/184 = 98.607%

  • Sarah Robles: 

    • 115/149/264 = 91.034%

  • Mattie Rogers: 

    • 100/125/225 = 87.754%

Obviously you can’t assume these athletes will only hit their openers, but you can clearly see King was calling her shot. She was hungry for it, and she knew that if she wanted to lock in her spot, she’d have to go big.

King attempts a new American record in the snatch

King was at a disadvantage going into Trials. As a lighter lifter, she’d have to go first, which would give Rogers and Robles an idea of what they would need to hit to pass her up. But King wasn’t going down without a fight. 

After missing her first attempt, King came back and nailed 80kg. She returned to attempt 83kg for a new American record, but couldn’t quite stick it.

Rogers sets a new American record in the snatch

Rogers knew she’d have to show up big at Trials, and she was clearly prepared to break her own American records. Despite opening with a shaky 103kg, she followed it up with a solid 106kg snatch on her second attempt for a new American record.

She just missed her last attempt at 109 behind her, but looked to be in a good position heading into the clean-and-jerks.

Robles bombs out

An Olympian from the 2012 London Games, Robles served a two-year ban for PEDs before being reinstated in time to compete at 2015 Worlds.

There, she put up a solid 279kg total to cement her spot atop the Olympic team rankings.

Going into Trials, she was comfortably in first place, but knew she should set a larger total to make sure she didn’t get passed up. 

Unfortunately, things didn’t go her way. She attempted to snatch 118kg three times and bombed out, which paved the way for King and Rogers to try and pass her up.

The Clean-and-Jerks

With Robles unable to post a new total, King and Rogers could look at her existing total to determine the numbers they needed to pass her in the rankings.

Now stuck with her 96.207%, Robles wasn't able to do anything about it if King or Rogers put up the numbers necessary to surpass her.

The most important jerk of King’s life

King clearly had a plan in place for the Trials. Aiming big, she locked in an 80kg snatch, and opened her clean-and-jerks at 95kg, which would've given her a 175kg total.

That total would put King at 93.783%—below Robles, but above Rogers. With second place secure, King looked for the lock and called for 100kg on her second attempt.

She made the lift, but was red-lighted due to press-out. A 100kg lift would've put her at 96.463%—above both Rogers and Robles—and first place in the Olympic rankings to guarantee her a spot to Rio. 

With only one attempt left at 100kg, King came to the platform and performed exactly how she needed to. It was easily her best lift of the night, and she stepped up when it counted most. In the space of a dozen seconds, King accomplished her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympic athlete.

King’s clean-and-jerk sets the mark for Rogers

After King claimed the No. 1 spot, nothing could've removed her from the Olympic team. Rogers had only one chance to make the team, and that was beating Robles in the ranking.

Rogers’ team worked quickly and found the number she needed to hit: 141kg.

With a 141kg clean-and-jerk, Rogers would total 247kg to bump her percentage up to 96.334%—ahead of Robles, but behind King to make the Olympic team.

The only problem was 141kg is 8kg over her own American record and competition-best mark. Hitting that lift required a legendary performance, and Rogers was up for the task.

She moved her opening clean-and-jerk from 125 to 132, and we waited. Even if King hadn’t made her 100kg clean-and-jerk, Rogers would've been forced to set a PR and a new American record to solidify her spot on the team. But there’s a big difference between requiring a 2kg PR compared to an 8kg PR.

Rogers missed her opening attempt at 132kg. The bar slipped off her shoulders as she caught the clean. Her body language and facial expression clearly showed she was upset, and she was able to channel that emotion into her second attempt at 132, which was successful.

When 141 was called on the bar, the entire auditorium was on their feet. Rogers is a fan favorite; her story is the stuff of movies; and her rise in the sport has been quick and dominant. 

But the crowd doesn’t pick who goes to the Olympics, and the barbell doesn’t care about the lifter’s story. A 141kg clean-and-jerk wasn’t in the cards for Rogers, and neither was a spot on the Olympic team.

At the end of the night, King, Robles, and Arthur were named to the Olympic team. They each earned their spots through the established selection process outlined by USA Weightlifting after the 2012 Olympics.

Toomey, Vellner Back-To-Back Wodapalooza Champs, Mayhem Freedom Claim Title

Wodapalooza 2020 is officially a wrap. Let’s talk about what went down on the fourth and final day of competition and who’s walking away with the CrossFit Games invites. The Elite individuals and teams competed two events on the Sunday. The first event, ‘Down-Up,’ put athletes through a brutal couplet of heavy deadlifts and bar-facing burpees. The second and final event of the day, ‘Celebrate Life,’ was a chipper that required high-power output and sound strategy. 

Day 3 Wodapalooza Recap: Sager, Toomey & Mayhem Freedom Lead The Way

It’s hard to believe but we are already through three days of competition at Wodapalooza 2020. Just one day and two events remain before we find out who our 2020 Wodapalooza champions are and who will be earning their ticket to the 2020 CrossFit Games. While the elites only competed in two events today, a lot has happened during those three events that we need to recap heading into the final day. 

Sigmundsdottir, Williams & Mayhem Freedom Grab Leads Day 2 At Wodapalooza

We are four events and two days deep into Wodapalooza 2020 and the action has been nothing less than incredible. Just four points separate first place from second place in both the men and women’s divisions, and a margin of just two points separates first from second in the team division. While there are 34 divisions, four stages, and a million other things going on at Wodapalooza, we’re going to take a minute and focus on the Elite Individuals and Teams. 

Patrick Vellner Talks the Open, 2020 Wodapalooza & More

Patrick Vellner’s season couldn’t have started any better than it did at the 2020 CrossFit Open. He concluded the five weeks as the overall men’s champion. To have the qualification for the CrossFit Games wrapped up so quickly means he has options as to how he moves forward for the rest of the year.

Who To Watch At Wodapalooza 2020: Vellner, Toomey & More

We are just a week away from kicking off Wodapalooza 2020 and to say we are getting excited around here is an understatement. With so many badasses coming to Miami to compete it can be hard to keep up with who to watch and what to keep your eyes open for, but relax — that’s why we’re here. 

Catching Up With Tia-Clair Toomey On 2020 Wodapalooza, Training & More

What separates great athletes from the rest of their field is their desire to stay on top and find that drive to keep competing even when they have nothing else to prove.

James Newbury Talks Confidence For CrossFit

The Australian athlete talks about the importance of mindset.

FloElite To Live Broadcast Leading CrossFit®, Inc. Sanctional™ Events

AUSTIN, Texas (January 23, 2020) - Today, FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, and Loud And Live Sports announced an expansion of their partnership heading into 2020. FloSports will exclusively stream the Loud And Live Sports events set to occur in the United States, Spain and Mexico. The partnership will bring live and on-demand content and coverage of five high-profile events to a global audience on FloElite. The multi-year deal will include the West Coast CrossFit® Classic, Madrid CrossFit® Championship (Spain) and the Mayan CrossFit® Classic (Mexico) in addition to the Wodapalooza CrossFit® Festival and the Granite Games for which the two had previously partnered. With a prize purse totaling nearly $1.3M USD, these five events have already attracted some of the top athletes within the sport including Tia-Claire Toomey, Patrick Vellner, Lauren Fisher, Noah Olsen, Brooke Wells, Ben Smith and Brent Fikowski among others. 

Why The Open Matters Now & Later

In case you missed the news earlier this week, the scores from the CrossFit Open are now official. The national champions have been crowned and the top 20 are now established. You can see the scores for yourself at the CrossFit leaderboard website. 

Kari Pearce Shares 4 Nutrition Tips For 2020

Many people set fitness-related resolutions around the New Year, and a lot of those people will find their way to the local CrossFit gym with an abundance of motivation and a passion to improve. They will initially get pumped for every workout they go into because of the excitement that comes with getting stronger, faster, leaner, and better overall.