USA Weightlifting Releases New Selection Procedures for Tokyo Olympics

USA Weightlifting has some news: their procedures for selecting the weightlifters who will compete in Tokyo have been approved by the United States Olympic Committee.

They published their new procedures on, and when we asked what has changed since the last time they worked on the selection protocol, USAW’s CEO Phil Andrews gave us some highlights.

Individuals Are the New Team

For the 2012 and 2016 Olympic cycles, countries generally qualified with the combined totals of six athletes at the preceding two World Weightlifting Championships. If a nation didn’t earn Olympic quotas at those events they might use totals from their continental championships, like the Pan Ams. If a nation still didn’t have a quota they can rely on a tripartite commission place or they can potentially get a place if one of their athletes was in the top 10 in the world.

Now that system has totally changed. The IWF has devised a new system that means you must personally qualify, not your team. It’s complicated (it’s worth reading the document we linked above) but the athlete also needs to compete six times in drug-tested, IWF-run competitions during the qualifying period. (This is due to the upgraded doping controls.) Then from those competitions an athlete calculates his or her ROBI score, which as of June 2018 is the new way the IWF compares individual results across weight categories. In other words, it’s the new Sinclair.

You can also qualify automatically for the Olympics if you’re ranked in the top 8 in the world.

Weight Classes

There will be 7 bodyweight categories each for men and women in the Olympic Games, so the 10 weight classes in the World Championships will be contested by just 7 at the Olympics. To allow for this you only have to have competed twice in the relevant Olympic category.

USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews told BarBend,

Domestically, this means that our selection procedure is essentially looking to the IWF procedure. The only time the US Olympic Committee and USA Weightlifting may intervene is if there is a reason not to endorse an individual (for example, they are serving a domestic USADA ban, or some other issue which prevents them from competing) or in the event we have more than 4 in the Top 8 in the World.

In this case, the US procedures show we will allocate those quotas to those finishing highest in the IWF Rankings for their category. We really think the IWF has done a great job upgrading this procedure.

Again, these are just the summary highlights. Check out the full doc for more information.

Featured image via @roblympian on Instagram.

Special thank you to USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews for his help explaining the finer points of the new selection procedure.

Editor’s Note: BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. The two organizations maintain editorial independence unless otherwise noted on specific content projects.