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Silver Medalist Theisen-Lappen Faces Olympic Hurdle Despite Stellar Performance

Natasha Spencer
Published by Natasha Spencer | Social Media Manager
Last updated: September 19, 2023

American weightlifter Mary Theisen-Lappen made a splash at the world championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, bagging a silver medal in her debut.

However, her Olympic dreams hang in the balance as she trails behind fellow American and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles.

Mary Theisen-Lappen lifting weights
Courtesy of

Theisen-Lappen, a late bloomer in the weightlifting scene, hoisted a total of 277 kilograms (610 pounds) in the snatch and clean and jerk categories.

She was bested only by South Korea’s Park Hye-Jeong. The reigning Olympic and world champion, China’s Li Wenwen, bowed out due to injury.

Despite her impressive performance, Theisen-Lappen’s Olympic journey is far from certain. Olympic qualifying standings are based on a lifter’s best snatch and clean and jerk across major competitions through next April.

Robles, despite finishing fifth at the world championships, still holds an 11-pound lead over Theisen-Lappen.

Theisen-Lappen’s final clean-and-jerk attempt, which could have tipped the scales in her favor, was ruled a no-lift.

Having already used her lone challenge on her last snatch, she had no choice but to accept the ruling.

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

Theisen-Lappen’s next shot at Olympic qualification is the Grand Prix in Qatar this December, followed by the Pan American Championships early next year, and finally, the World Cup in April.

With the stakes high and the competition fierce, Theisen-Lappen’s journey to the Olympics is a testament to the grit and determination that defines the strength sports community.

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