Wes Kitts has done it. After earning silver at last year’s Pan American Weightlifting Championships, the 27-year-old weightlifter returned to the contest to take first place in the extremely competitive -105kg weight class.
Kitts, who is coached by Dave Spitz at California Strength, was Team USA’s only -105kg athlete at the Pan Ams and successfully completed two snatches: 165 kilograms (363.8 pounds) and 172 kilograms (379.2 pounds). He missed his third lift of 181 kilograms (399 pounds), which would have beaten his American record by 5 whole kilos. We can’t embed the video, but you can watch the 172kg snatch here.
[CJ Cummings was another standout performance for Team USA this year. Watch his American record breaking snatch here!]
When it came time for the clean & jerks, Kitts opened with 202 kilograms and missed 212 kilograms, dropping it from the front rack before jerking. He tried it again for his third lift and successfully completed it — we believe this 212kg lift is the heaviest clean & jerk he has made in competition.
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@weskitts22 is your 2018 PAN AMERICAN CHAMPION!!! 🇺🇸🦅 #TeamUSA #American105 – 172kg Snatch 🥈 212kg Clean & Jerk 🥇 384kg Total 🥇 – 📷 @hookgrip #CalStrength @cytosportbrand #Weightlifting #Snatch #CleanAndJerk #Champion @caffeineandkilos #USAWeightlifting @usa_weightlifting #PanAms2018
[The heaviest lift we’ve ever seen from him was this 215-kilogram clean & jerk made in training.]
With his clean & jerks over, Wes Kitts totaled 384 kilograms (846.6lb) for first place, beating out Ecuador’s Jorge David Arroyo, who himself beat Kitts for gold at last year’s Pan Ams.
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“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln – Watch @weskitts22 compete for GOLD at the 2018 Pan American Championships, tomorrow at 2:30pm PST! 🇺🇸 #TeamUSA #CalStrength #Weightlifting @cytosportbrand @caffeineandkilos – Live Stream ➡️ @usa_weightlifting
Things went pretty well for Kitts at last year’s Pan Ams, though. They were held in Miami in July, and the former college football athlete broke the American snatch record — his own — by one kilogram, lifting 175 kilograms (385.5 pounds). That lift earned him silver in the snatch.
— USA Weightlifting (@USWeightlifting) July 27, 2017
The clean & jerks didn’t go quite so smoothly, with Kitts missing both his second and third lifts. He collapsed under the clean in his final lift of 209 kilograms, appearing to have put too much pressure on his windpipe and arteries (he was fine), but he totaled 375 kilos and earned silver overall, with Arroyo totaling 382 kilos.
Five months later he set another American record in the snatch with 176 kilograms at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim.
He didn’t earn any medals in Anaheim, but it was a great achievement for Kitts and all of Team USA. Now with his first gold medal under his weightlifting belt, the future is looking bright for Wes Kitts.
Featured image via @cal_strength on Instagram.