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Mary Theisen-Lappen wins silver at weightlifting worlds; Olympic spot a heavier lift

Mary Theisen-Lappen

USA Weightlifting

American Mary Theisen-Lappen earned a silver medal in her world weightlifting championships debut, but if current rankings hold she will not go to the Olympics.

Theisen-Lappen, a former college throws coach in track and field who picked up competitive weightlifting her late 20s, lifted 277 total kilograms (610 pounds) between the snatch and clean and jerk at worlds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.

She was beaten only by South Korean Park Hye-Jeong (289 kilograms). China’s Li Wenwen, the reigning Olympic and world champion in the +87kg division, withdrew due to injury, according to the International Weightlifting Federation.

Theisen-Lappen became the third American woman to make the podium at these worlds across all classes after bronze medalists Jourdan Delacruz and Olivia Reeves.

A nation can send a maximum of three lifters per gender to the Paris Olympics, and no more than one per weight class.

Theisen-Lappen currently trails countrywoman and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles in Olympic qualifying in their division.

That’s because Olympic qualifying standings are determined by a lifter’s best snatch and clean and jerk over major competitions through next April.

Even though Robles finished fifth at worlds, her best total during the Olympic qualifying window dating to last year is 11 more pounds than Theisen-Lappen’s best.

On Saturday, Theisen-Lappen was called for a no-lift by referees after completing her third and final clean and jerk attempt at a weight that would have pushed her ahead of Robles in Olympic qualifying.

Theisen-Lappen’s lone challenge was already used on her last snatch, so she had to accept the ruling on the clean and jerk. She called Saturday’s end result bittersweet.

“I thought it maybe could go either way,” she said. “It sucks.”

The next Olympic qualifier for Americans is a Grand Prix in December in Qatar, followed by the Pan American Championships early next year and then the last qualifier, a World Cup in April.