|Tacata – a national champ
RP weightlifter sets new American standard at competition in Florida
Don’t be too surprised if Chloe Tacata is representing the United States at an international weightlifting competition scheduled for Denver in October.
Her coach, Freddie Myles certainly won’t be. Tacata, a 14-year-old from Rohnert Park, set a new American record in the snatch event to claim her second consecutive national championship at the USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships and Youth Olympic Games Trials in Daytona Beach, Fla., the weekend of June 14-16.
“She could quite possibly be representing the U.S. because she’s one of the top lifters 15-under regardless of her weight class,” Myles said.
Tacata, who stands 4-feet-11 and weighs 97 pounds, competes in the 44 kilogram class and lifted 49kg in the snatch competition to break the previous American record by one kilogram. That is precisely 115 percent of her body weight. The record was set in 2012 by Sydney Goad, daughter of an U.S. Olympic weightlifting mom and a World Games weightlifting dad.
The snatch is where in one motion, the lifter hoists the weights over her head. In the clean and jerk, the weightlifter brings the weights to her shoulders before lifting it over the head.
Although she says the clean and jerk is not her best competition, she was still good enough to win the gold medal in that event, which also delivered the overall gold medal.
Her overall lift total of 105kg placed her as the top U.S. female lifter in her class and the third overall ranked lifter in all weight classes for American 15-year-olds.
She was very confident heading into the competition in Florida and got the results she expected.
“I’ve been training pretty hard to get the American record for a while, and I finally did the weight in June, so I was pretty confident when we went,” she said. “I clean and jerked 57kg…that’s not my best. It’s still pretty good.”
A proper diet was one of the keys to her doing so well.
“I ate really healthy…excruciatingly healthy,” Tacata quipped. “To stay in my weight class, for more than a month, I cut out salt, extra sugar and fats. I ate a lot of greens, lean meat and fish, watched my carbs and ate fruit for energy.”
Like in other weight-division based sports like wrestling and boxing, Olympic weightlifting competitors are often trying to "make weight," that is, maintain, gain or lose weight to be in an advantageous position. Tacata hovers around the right weight, but staying away from all the "fun stuff" like ice cream, buttered popcorn, and Chex Mix – especially during the blossoming days of summer vacation – was a huge sacrifice.
Being on the national team would mean so much to Tacata.
“I really want to be on that team…it would be a great experience to be on an international team,” Tacata said. In a few years, Tacata says she has her eyes on making another international team – the United States Olympic squad. “That is a goal, and that would be really, really cool.”
Tacata has been lifting since 2011, and her coach said she’s improved by leaps and bounds since she first started.
“Even in the last year, she’s doubled her total in the snatch,” Myles said.
She competes for the Petaluma-based Myles Ahead 15-under team, which placed second overall at the Florida competition. The 13-under team won the national title.
Tacata wasn’t considering weightlifting until it was suggested to her by her then-gymnastics coach, Sara Flynn.
“She told a bunch of teammates we should try weightlifting,” Tacata said. “We all did and most of us stuck with it.”
Weightlifting is a niche sport that really doesn’t draw much attention until the Olympics, but that’s part of the draw for Tacata.
“It’s really cool and fun that not a lot of people do, especially teenage girls…this isn’t exactly a popular sport,” she said with a laugh.
Because it is an international sport, weights are measured via the metric system instead of the pounds system used only in the United States. Her clean and jerk lift of 56kg calculates to 233.2 pounds.
“Favorite subject is probably math, and I think it took a year to actually start completely thinking kilos. I used to think like that’s how many pounds. After a year, I’d just say, ‘that’s 40 kilograms.’”
In all, 531 athletes and 302 coaches from across the United States participated in the championship event in Florida, making it the largest domestic weightlifting competition in the world to date. An annual event, the USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships and Youth Olympic Games Trials featured fierce competition among the elite of American youth weightlifting athletes, all of whom are age 17 or younger.