Wekiva High graduate lands spot on Olympic weightlifting team

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When Mattie Rogers of Apopka began participating in weightlifting as a sport, qualifying for the Olympics was her goal.

That goal was officially reached this week when she was one of four women named to the U.S. Olympic women’s weightlifting team by USA Weightlifting. Rogers, 25, will compete in the 87kg (192 lbs.) category.

Olympic perspective

Despite achieving the lofty goal, Rogers, who graduated from Wekiva High School in 2014, said she keeps the upcoming Olympics in perspective. Otherwise, the moment can look too big to overcome, she said.

“It’s obviously an honor any time I get to represent the USA,” Rogers said. “I try not to think of the Olympics as any different from a Worlds (championship) or a Pan Ams or something even though it is a much larger scale.

“In my head, it’s just another international competition. I think that’s because I get really nervous and it makes me feel a little less nervous, but it’s always an honor. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Not a sure thing

Despite landing the coveted spot on the U.S. Olympic team, COVID-19 spikes in Japan where the Tokyo Games are set to take place July 23 to August 8, has caused a sense of uneasiness for Rogers in terms of the Olympic Games being held as scheduled.

“Every bit of information we get is always a ‘maybe.’ Nothing is for certain, which definitely makes me very nervous just because nothing feels like it’s set in stone. Anything could happen. Hopefully, as we get closer, they’ll have some more concrete answers for us and it will feel like it’s actually happening,” she said.

Assuming that the Games continue on as planned, Rogers and the other U.S. men and women weightlifters will head to Hawaii in July to train in a pandemic bubble of sorts prior to heading over to Tokyo.

New weight class

There are only four women and four men on the U.S. weightlifting team and Rogers will be competing for the first time in the 87kg weight classification, although she said it’s tough for her to meet the minimum weight requirements for that classification.

“I competed in the 71 kg class before and I was very comfortable there. I didn’t have to lose or gain. That’s just how much I weighed all the time,” Rogers said.

“I injured myself in the beginning of qualification and there was someone else basically ready to take that spot anytime, so I handed my spot to somebody else. My only option was to go up three weight classes to the 87 because not every class is an Olympics-contested weight class.

“I’m not going to weigh 87. I don’t know if that’s physically possible for my body frame. I’m going to have to drink a lot of water and eat a lot right before weigh-in to be just over the minimum because you can’t weigh under a certain amount either. I’ll probably be the lightest one competing, but that’s OK. At least I’m there.”

The full story begins on page 1A of the Friday, June 4, issue of The Apopka Chief.

The Apopka Chief and The Planter are weekly community newspapers, independently owned and family operated, that have served the greater Apopka area in Central Florida since 1923 and 1965 respectively. Subscribe today!