Sunday, May 18, 2008

Melanie Roach of Bonney Lake earns place on Olympic weightlifting team

The Associated Press


Melanie Roach reacts to her successful lifts at the Olympic weightlifting trials Saturday in Atlanta. Roach claimed one of the Americans' four female spots, along with Carissa Gump, Natalie Woolfolk and Cheryl Haworth.

ATLANTA Melanie Roach, a 33-year-old Bonney Lake mother of three, finally fulfilled her Olympic dream Saturday, having overcome the back injury that ruined her expected trip to Sydney in 2000.

Roach was the top-rated lifter at the U.S. weightlifting trials at Georgia Tech, claiming one of four female spots allotted to the Americans. She'll be joined in Beijing by Carissa Gump, Natalie Woolfolk and third-time Olympian Cheryl Haworth.

"This is far better than anything I expected," Roach said. "If I had made the team in 2000, I wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much as I do now."

On the men's side, Kendrick Farris was the top-rated qualifier, followed by Chad Vaughn and Casey Burgener.

Roach's comeback was even more remarkable considering she quit the sport for five years to start a family. When she decided to start lifting again, the pain returned, too, forcing her to undergo surgery in fall 2006 shortly after she claimed her sixth national title. She received a procedure known as microdiscectomy that reduced the recovery time.

On Saturday, the 117-pound Roach made all three of her lifts in the snatch, the heaviest at just over 178 pounds. As she held the bar above her head, she screamed in delight. In the clean and jerk, she lifted nearly 229 pounds with ease, then locked up her spot by hoisting just under 240 pounds on her second attempt.

Afterward, she savored the moment with her husband and children.

"I'm really proud of my mom for making the Olympics," said 7-year-old Ethan, who will accompany her to China.

Copyright 2008 The Seattle Times Company