At the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Team USA member Katherine Nye earned a silver medal in the 76-kilogram weight class via a 249-kilogram total. Her best lifts consisted of a 111-kilogram snatch and a 138-kilogram clean & jerk. Her performance marked the first weightlifting medal won by the USA at the 2020 Games and the first-ever Olympic Games silver medal won by an American female weightlifter. It was the best performance by any American weightlifter at the Games in over two decades.
The 22-year-old Nye took to Reddit on Aug. 18, 2021, to do an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) in the r/weightroom subreddit. Nye received questions about her preparation for the 2020 Games in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, her mindset, how she deals with anxiety, stress, and competition nerves, her goal lifts — a 120-kilogram (264.6-pound) snatch and a 150-kilogram (330.7-pound) clean & jerk — her future in the sport, and more.
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Training During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nye’s training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was not hindered much by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite how it “messed up the Olympics scheduling,” as Reddit user BenchPauper put it, “nothing really changed” regarding her training for Nye. Most of her training was fueled by “an unnecessary amount of caffeine” and performed in her garage gym, outfitted with dumbbells, kettlebells, and…weightlifting equipment. She teamed up with her current coach, Spencer Arnold, and training was business as usual — eight sessions per week, each lasting two to three hours.
Nye is a fan of using blocks in her training. In February 2020, she recorded herself cleaning 150 kilograms (330.7 pounds) off blocks. In July 2021, she scored a 153-kilogram (337.3-pound) jerk PR off blocks leading up to the 2020 Games.
Mindset of a Champion
Nye does not “conceal [her] anxiety around competing.” She instead tries to channel it.
Adrenaline is a powerful thing and if you don’t let it consume you into a negative headspace, you can do incredible things.
Although she’s only 22 years old, Nye has the “maturity” needed to overcome bad training days despite throwing the “occasional fit.” Her approach to training is to remain present and not presume how any given training day might go. She is “crazy competitive” but trusts her coach to ensure she is in a position to reach her goals.
When Nye secured her silver medal at the Games, she felt as though she was “on top of the world.” However, following the Games, she dealt with depression and finding renewed purpose. Outside of competing, Nye aspires to own her own gym or follow her passion for health care. Nye has bipolar disorder and said in a 2020 Reddit AMA that since taking medication for it, she’s “gotten much better at processing things and keeping [her] emotions steady.”
The Press-Out Rule
The judging at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was strict. Many lifters who thought they scored successful snatches were ultimately ruled as no lifts by the judges due to a “press out,” which means at least one elbow bent and then pressed back out when the barbell was overhead.
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When asked what she thought of the press-out rule, Nye favors it “just be thrown away” due to its subjectivity allowing for the potential manipulation of results. In Nye’s view, the rule is “detrimental to the sport” because of its “inconsistency.” Nye admits she is unlikely to be called for pressing out as “her…anatomy…makes it nearly impossible to be called for it.”
Growth of Weightlifting in the USA
Nye believes that awareness of what Olympic weightlifting is will be key to its growth in the USA. She thinks advertising for the sport should be geared towards that goal. Additionally, she believes weightlifting should be established as an NCAA sport in the future.
What If Weightlifting Is Removed From the Olympic Games Program?
Weightlifting has battled doping-related issues for quite some time. The McLaren Report, released on June 4, 2020, revealed that former International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Dr. Tamas Ajan was involved in deep financial corruption tied to widespread doping cover-up. That high volume of doping-related suspensions has placed weightlifting’s future on the Olympic program at risk. It lost the largest number of spots of any sport for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games — 76 fewer than allotted at the 2020 Toyko Games.
On Aug. 8, 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board approved an alteration to the Olympic Charter. The alteration would allow for removing an international federation’s eligibility from the Olympic Games without approval from an official IOC Session.
Reddit user kroephoto asked Nye what she thought needs to change to ensure the sport remains on the Olympic program. Nye suggests the IWF should not allow members to serve on its Executive Board if they represent countries currently serving a ban for doping. She also said it would require “completely new leadership” and more transparency going forward.
However, if weightlifting were to get dropped from the Olympic program, Nye would still compete in the sport:
If it’s removed, I’ll just go until I feel I’ve peaked. I have personal goals…and I don’t want to be done until I see those numbers through, which I think is possible by 2024, Paris or no Paris.
Those goals are a 120-kilogram (264.6-pound) snatch and a 150-kilogram (330.7-pound) clean & jerk. For reference, the world records at 76-kilograms are 124 kilograms (273.4 pounds) and 156 kilograms (343.9 pounds), held by Rim Jong-sim of North Korea and Zhang Wangli of China, respectively.
Nye said that her next appearance in a major international competition would be at the 2021 Pan Am Championships on Nov. 1-7 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Nye finished second at that contest in 2020 via a 235-kilogram (518.1-pound) total consisting of a 105-kilogram (231.5-pound) snatch and a 130-kilogram (286.6-pound) clean & jerk.
Featured image: @katherineenye on Instagram