Tom Smart, Deseret News
Last month, Utah teenager Jessie Bradley traveled to Russia represented her state and her country in an international weightlifting competition.
This month, she will step onto a national stage. And this time, she will get to do it at home.
The USA Weightlifting National Championships will take place this weekend, July 17-20, at the Grand America Hotel. The event is the main qualifier for athletes hoping to represent the United States at the World Championships, PanAm Games or the Olympic Games — and it is in Utah for the first time.
"This event marks our last major event prior to the 2014 World Championships," USA Weightlifting CEO Michael Massik said in a press release. "(And that event is) a qualification event for the 2016 Olympic Games."
Bradley's first competitive weightlifting event was in October 2013. Since then, she has immersed herself in the sport. In May, she qualified for a spot on the Junior World team and, at the end of June, she competed in the Junior World Championships in Kazan, Russia, where she set a Youth American snatch record with a lift of 88 kilograms.
Bradley now leads a collection of 16 Utahns into this weekend's National Championships. A year ago, just one person from the state competed in the event.
Overall, organizers predict there will be more than 400 athletes, 200 coaches and 3,000 spectators at the Grand American to watch competitors in eight and seven bodyweight categories for men and women, respectively.
Olympic weightlifting is comprised of two lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk. Each athlete is allowed three attempts in each lift, competing to lift the most weight in each lift and in an overall total.
Three athletes who have represented the United States in the Olympic Games will be in Salt Lake City for the event along with an individual who has represented Armenia and one who has represented Puerto Rico. There will be 63 competitors representing California, the most from any state, followed by 33 from Texas and 20 from Colorado.
Among those scheduled to compete this weekend are seven Senior American record holders, nine Junior American record holders and 12 Youth American record holders.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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