Mattie Sasser: Weightlifting Star
Pacific Games weightlifting win: Three golds!
December, 2017: On the first day of the Pacifi Mini Games weightlifting competition, Marshall Islands’ Mathlynn “Mattie” Sasser dominated the women’s 63kg category, setting five Oceania and five Pacific Games records on her way to three gold medals — the maximum possible gold medals for a weightlifter to win in the competition.
Her 219kg (483lbs) total was 46kg (101lbs) above silver-medalist Amanda Gould of New Zealand and bronze-medalist Maximina Uepa of Nauru. “I have been training very hard and my Dad (and coach) mentioned that the competition
would not be very strong,” Mattie said. “Without the pressure of competitors, he challenged me to go for a perfect competition, six for six lifts” — which she did.
Mattie’s first snatch of 90kg (198lbs) was a competition personal best, breaking the Oceania and Pacific Games records on her final snatch of 96kg (212lbs).
“After her record-breaking snatch, I knew the clean and jerk would be no problem,” said Coach Terry Sasser. “She was in her zone and I knew nothing would stop her except for small mistakes. My job was to keep her focused.”
Her second clean and jerk of 121kg (267lbs) broke the standing Oceania and Pacific Games records and her third lift of 123kg (271lbs) broke them all again and established a new 63kg Oceania and Pacific Games record total of 219kg (483lbs).
The Mini-Games wrapped up Sasser’s 2017 competition schedule. “The 2017 journey is over and I can’t wait for 2018,” she said on social media. Teammate Tauati Noere battled for bronze in the 85kg category. His final clean and jerk attempt of 171kg (377lbs) would have secured bronze if successful. He cleaned the weight, which was a personal best, but he just missed the jerk and the bronze medal.
Marshall Islands Weightlifting President Tony Muller said, “both of these lifters are remarkable.”
Image details: The award podium at the Pacific Mini-Games in Vanuatu last week, with Mattie Sasser in the middle receiving three gold medals. She defeated Amanda Gould of New Zealand, left, and Maximina Uepa of Nauru. Photos: Peter Carroll, Van 2017 Media.
Note: The above story first appeared in the Marshall Islands Journal.
Mattie in 2016:
Mattie Sasser is the only Marshallese to gain entry into the elite Olympic Games competition on her merits as a sportsperson alone. This she did in the August 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the competition her lifts boosted her to number 11 globally in her weight category
More recently, Mattie has continued to star at international tournaments, and won gold in her division in December’s 2016 American Open Weightlifting competition held in Orlando, Florida. She won with a 88kg/194lb snatch and 113kg/149lb clean and jerk for a 201kg/442lbs total, breaking her previous Oceania 58kg junior snatch and total records.
At USA Weightlifting’s (USAW) premier annual lifting event, which hosted over 900 competitors, Mattie defeated 63 female 58kg weightlifters including USAW World Team member and current 58kg American senior record holder Jessica Lucero in what ended up being a fight to the finish over who would make their last lift.
Both women snatched 88kg on their final attempt, with Mattie taking the gold by weight advantage. In the clean and jerk, Mattie successfully completed 113kg on her final clean and jerk. In a last attempt for gold, Jeessica tried to lift 116kg to overcome Mattie’s weight advantage and achieve a winning total. If successful, Jessica would have set a new American record, but she was unable to complete her final clean and jerk.
“This year Mattie achieved the top position in Oceania’s 58kg Junior category and now she is top in America,” Coach and father Terry Sasser said. “She again broke two of her own Oceania junior records, and her American Open lifts would have broken all three American records in the 58kg junior category.”
In a story reported in the Marshall Islands Journal on December 23, 2016, Mattie said she appreciated the opportunity to represent the Marshall Islands at the important lifting competition in the United States and is grateful to the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee and the Marshall Islands Weightlifting Federation for their ongoing support of her training and competition efforts.
She also recognized the efforts of her new friends at Mash Elite Performance, including coaches Travis Mash and Don McCauley. While lifting for the Marshall Islands, Mattie helped accrue valuable club points for Team Mash, as international lifters can represent USAW Clubs. Mattie trained with Team Mash for two months leading up to the American Open.
Father Terry, who is also the islands’ national Olympic committee secretary general, said his daughter’s accomplishment is great for the Marshalls, Micronesia and the whole of Oceania.
“I think we’re starting to become a force again and it’s just an amazing feat for someone who lives on an island of 20,000 people to come out here and do this,” he said.
Mattie started her sporting life in track and field, but soon found a passion for weightlifting. She now trains about six hours a day back home in a small and hot gym.