Mattie Sasser: Weightlifting Star
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.