It’s been six years since Bonney Lake resident Melanie Roach competed in weightlifting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, placing sixth. Last month, though, Roach came back into the spotlight by winning the American Open, a biannual national weightlifting competition.
The competition was held last December in Washington D.C., where Roach placed first in the 53 kilogram (116.8 pounds) division.
“I was not ever planning to returning to weight lifting again,” Roach said. “It was completely unplanned.”
Roach performed two different kinds of lifts at the American Open – snatching and the clean and jerk.
Snatching is when a person picks the barbell off the floor and raises it straight above their head in one smooth movement. Roach snatched 73 kilos, or more than 160 pounds.
The clean and jerk is a dual-movement lift. The lifter takes the barbell from the floor to holding it across their deltoids, and then jerks it up above their head.
Roach clean and jerked 96 kilos, or more than 213 pounds.
“I was beyond surprised and excited,” she said. “I was hoping to potentially place in the clean and jerk, so to hit all my lifts and win the whole thing felt amazing.”
Not only did Roach win the American Open, but she is ranked in the top seven over all women’s weight classes. Because of this, Roach said she has her eye on competing internationally and qualifying for the 2015 World Team. The 2015 World Championships will be held in November in Houston Texas.
Just like riding a bike
It was not Roach’s plan to get back into weightlifting competitions prior to the American Open, but after opening the Roach Strength gym, she felt the weights calling to her.
“As soon as those weights came out of the box I had to try them,” Roach said. “I had to be the first one to lift those weights.”
Roach said that her view of weightlifting changed when she started coaching and teaching lifting to other people.
“The more that I started looking at lifting from a coaches perspective and thinking about explaining the movement patterns that I was trying to teach, I realized how much I didn’t know about the lift when I was trying to teach myself,” she said. “I started looking at other coaches in the gym and I realized there were some things they were saying that I had never even considered myself, as an athlete.”
Even with the seven months of training and lifting before the American Open, Roach found herself unusually nervous.
“The most difficult part about competing at the American Open was handling the nerves,” Roach said. “Thankfully it was like riding a bike. Once I started warming up I was able to calm down and enjoy lifting in the meet.”