The eight incredible lifters representing Team USA at this year's Olympics in Tokyo, are just like the rest of us in some ways. They've spent the last year or more training in gyms when they could, and in garages when they needed to. They've watched some lifts go up, seen others stall, and fought against injuries here and there as they pursue incremental PRs.
But let's be straight: These athletes are not at all like the rest of us. Watch them cruise through heavy training sessions, moving the sort of weights we'd ask for a spot just to put away, and you'll also see that they're in their own league entirely. They're masters of the Olympic lifts, with airtight training schedules, superhuman recovery regimens, and power and strength that makes our jaws drop.
Meet the weightlifters you'll be rooting for in Tokyo!
Team USA Women
Hometown: Wylie, TX
Division: 49 kg
After winning the 2019 Pan American Games in the 55 kg class, Jourdan Delacruz cut weight and brought her A-game with an amazing performance at the 2020 Rome IWF World Cup to win the 49 kg division and become an early favorite for the 2020 Olympic team. She's one of the youngest members of the team, but is a seasoned competition veteran who's fond of one of our favorite "Olympic lift variations that the rest of us can do, too" movements, the barbell clean.
Why we love her: After learning she was going to Tokyo this summer, Delacruz posted a photo of herself as a toddler confidently gripping a full-sized barbell and grinning ear to ear with the heartfelt caption, "Hey little one, it's official. You're going to lift that (plus a tad more) at the Olympics this summer." You can almost see the twinkle of Olympic gold in the diaper-clad tot's eyes. Cuteness overload!
Hometown: Oakland Township, MI
Division: 76 kg
Kate Nye spent most of 2019 putting up PR after PR in a record-setting year that earned her the 2019 IWF Female Lifter of the Year. With the iconic Olympic rings emblazoned on the wall of her home studio, nothing, not even a global pandemic, could hold this 22-year-old back in her quest to secure her place on Team USA.
Why we love her: Nye isn't just strong on the platform. She has been open about her struggles with bipolar II and ADHD after letting her followers know about her diagnoses in a 2019 Instagram post. Nye admitted that for a long time she'd felt too proud to seek help, but when she finally did it felt like, "a weight off my shoulders knowing what I have to do to feel like a functioning human being."
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Division: 87 kg
Mattie Rogers is no stranger to the world stage. She rose to prominence in 2017 as the first American to medal in the World Weightlifting Championship in 12 years, then doubled down on her reputation by medaling again the following year, a feat unseen in the sport since 1994. She narrowly missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, but the momentum she's built over the past few years has landed her a spot on this year's team, and it seems she's peaking at exactly the right time. Every time you look at one of her posts, it seems like she's getting stronger before your very eyes.
Why we love her: Rogers' sense of humor and humility shine through on social media, with a video post following the official announcement of Team USA that expressed equal gratitude to fans and haters alike for helping fuel her determination and desire to make her dreams a reality. Plus, she we got to see her take on all kinds of challenges as one of the badass ladies who competed in the second iteration of the Brute Strength Challenge.
Hometown: Desert Hot Springs, CA
Division: +87 kg
Veteran Olympian Sarah Robles first qualified for the London Olympics in 2012 and became the first American in 16 years to medal in weightlifting at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Here's hoping the third time will be the charm in Tokyo—and that she'll rock her shades on the podium.
Why we love her: Aside from the fact that she often lifts in shades in her garage, Robles is both fierce and humble as a competitor and teammate. She used the Team USA announcement to very briefly shout her joy and express her gratitude, then spent the rest of the post highlighting her seven teammates.
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Team USA Men
Hometown: Beaufort, SC
Division: 73 kg
One of the most exciting young athletes in the sport, Cummings is a four-time Junior World Champion in the 69 kg division. He's set numerous records in his short career, and recently nailed a personal best at the Pan American Weightlifting Championship that is only 3 kg away from the current world record. This is a lifter the world will be watching in Tokyo.
Why we love him: Cummings is a "speak softly but move a heavy barbell" type of guy, so don't expect him to be loud or outspoken. His training-focused Instagram feed has become must-see TV for Olympic lifting fans, who get to watch him cruise through heavy snatches, push-jerks, and overhead squats—often all in the same complex. He occasionally shares solid insight about mobility and technique, such as in our article, "How to Master the Olympic Lifts," but mainly he just blows our minds with his ability to throw heavy-ass weight around.
Hometown: Auburn, WA
Division: 81 kg
The youngest American to ever clean and jerk 200 kilograms, Maurus has spent the last several years adding muscle to his frame and medals to his collection. His 2017 World Weightlifting Championship bronze was the first medal to go to an American man in nearly 20 years—a feat made even more impressive by the fact that he was 17 at the time.
Why we love him: Even though he's only 21, Maurus has been at this for a while. Just a few years ago, his mom would occasionally "hack" his account to wish him a happy birthday. After making his announcement of making the team, Maurus has basically gone dark on IG, which we like to think means he's focusing squarely his very real potential of becoming the first American man to medal at the games since 1984.
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Division: 109 kg
A two-time Pan American Champion and Pan American Games Champion, Wes Kitts has some impressive stats under his belt. His winning 399 kg total at the 2019 Pan American Weightlifting Championships was a whopping 17 kg heavier than the silver medalists that year. Then, at the Pan American Games, he came back from an 18 kg deficit by nailing 217 kg on his third clean and jerk attempt to take top honors by a single kilogram.
Why we love him: One reason we're fond of Wes is that he can front squat 500 pounds ass-to-grass like it ain't no thang. Who's not 'mirin that? But he's also a proud new papa, which feels kinda special on a team that's largely made of lifters who are barely old enough to buy a beer.
Hometown: Matthews, NC
Division: +109 kg
At 6-foot-2 and around 315 pounds, Caine Wilkes is a force to be reckoned with. The three-time Pan American Champion and five-time National Champion has been competing for over 20 years in Olympic lifting, but his current CrossFit athlete profile also says he's done the notoriously brutal Grace WOD (30 clean and jerks with 135 pounds) in just 1:19, which is simply nasty. As a member of Team USA, Wilkes has turned out some amazing lifts, including some of the heaviest clean and jerks in American history.
Why we love him: Aside from having some of the best hair in weightlifting, Wilkes has a great sense of humor and even a signature training weight: 50 kg. Seriously! Even though he's quite capable of hoisting 200 kg overhead (preferably with "Let's Get Physical" playing in the background), he's kinda-seriously maintained for years that snatching just 110 pounds, and doing it daily, is the key to "maximize your lifting potential and general athleticism."
One more reason to like him: Lifting runs deep in the Wilkes family, with both his wife and his father regularly joining him at the gym to cheer on his lifts.
Getting serious about Olympic lifting? Do it the right way with our expert guides.
- What is Olympic Lifting?
- Learn the Olympic Lifts
- Olympic Lift Variations
- Olympic Lifting and Bodybuilding
- How to Master the Olympic Lifts