This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The crowd needed quieting when Mattie Rogers reached down and grabbed the bar. Over the next 21 seconds, Rogers had everything in front of her everything to think about. She rocked back and forth, preparing to lift the 141 kilograms in front of her nine more than her previous lift in the clean-and-jerk event.
But as Rogers pulled up, her hands instantly gave way, and painfully, a ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Games did, too.
In the warmup room behind the main stage at the Salt Palace Convention Center, all Sarah Robles could do was wait. The 2012 Olympian, a near-lock coming into Sunday's U.S. Olympic team trials, failed to lift the bar cleanly on all three of her snatch-lift attempts in the first round. The cumulative points she has earned at various events over the past year would have carry her to Rio.
Suddenly, the road back to the Olympics, which became jagged following a two-year suspension for testing positive for a banned substance in 2014, was in serious question. Lifter after lifter went, while Robles was left to stew on the three bars she couldn't raise above her head. She was physically drained from a stomach virus that slammed her a few days ago.
Two spots in Rio were up for grabs between the 15 female lifters Sunday, and hers was up in the air.
"The wait was kind of horrible," Robles said.
It lasted over an hour. But once Rogers couldn't lift the 141 kilograms on the bar, Robles was in.
"If Mattie made that clean-and-jerk, I would have been out," Robles said.
The 27-year-old earned her spot in Rio, along with Morghan King, whose combined snatch and clean-and-jerk totals cemented her trip to Brazil. The two joined Jenny Arthur, who already guaranteed her spot in Rio due to combined point totals from the last two World Championship events in 2014 and 2015.
Arthur is the first American female lifter to qualify for the 75-kilogram class since Cara Heads Slaughter did so in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
King's 180-kilogram total in the snatch and clean-and-jerk propelled the 48-kilogram lifter to Rio.
"That 180 is kind of that golden number," King said. "We knew it would put pressure on the other girls."
Once Robles was officially announced as one of the three Olympians representing the U.S. in Brazil, she waved to her mom and friends in attendance in the crowd. She then wiped a tear from below her right eye. Her road back to the Olympics, featuring its share of torturous turns, was complete.
"I'm glad things ended up working out, because it was kind of hell for those last couple years," Robles said.
When pushed to the brink by rival Norik Vardanian, two-time Olympic lifter Kendrick Farris responded with a dramatic 209-kilogram lift in his final clean-and-jerk lift attempt. Farris, who went five of six on his overall lift attempts Sunday, finished as the top male overall after setting an American record with a total of 377 kilograms lifted.
He will headline an eight-man group that heads to Colombia next month for the Pan-American Games to compete for a slot to send an American to Rio.
Joining Farris and Vardanian (both 94kg lifters) are Alex Lee (69 kg), James Tatum (85kg), Travis Cooper (77kg), Wesley Kitts (105kg), Donovan Ford (105kg) and Caine Wilkes (105+kg).
Farris set sights on finishing with the overall No. 1 ranking coming into this weekend. The Olympian also said he's waiting to see if the fallout over lifters suspended for testing positive for banned performance-enhancing substances in last year's World Championships in Houston will be upheld.
If some suspensions are upheld, Farris said, it could allow the American team to move up in the overall ranking before Rio.
"I just wanted to come to this competition and see if I could push to the No. 1 ranking we were able to do that so I feel great about that," Farris said. "I think we'll be ready to roll here in the next few weeks down in Colombia."
USA Weightlifting Olympic Team Trials
At the Salt Palace Convention Center
Americans heading to Brazil
• Jenny Arthur (75kg): Qualified for Rio earlier this year due to point total at last two world championships
• Sarah Robles (75+kg) • Morghan King (48kg)
Americans going to Colombia
Top 8 men qualifying for Pan-American Games in Colombia next month to compete for one slot for Rio Games
• Kendrick Farris (94kg)
• Norik Vardanian (94 kg)
• Alex Lee (69kg)
• James Tatum (85kg)
• Travis Cooper (77kg)
• Wesley Kitts (105kg)
• Donovan Ford (105kg)
• Caine Wilkes (105+kg)