Auburn’s own Harrison Maurus, 21, placed fourth in weightlifting in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the highest score of any American in 33 years.
“It’s a great feeling. We went in with the goal to do as well as we could and we got right up to that cusp. I feel I represented the USA and USA Weightlifting really successfully,” Maurus said. “By the time I step on the platform, I try to eliminate unnecessary thoughts … I just lift and let my body and let the years of repetition take over.”
Breaking records isn’t something new to Maurus. He holds 10 American records, according to the USA Weightlifting website. Maurus also holds the youth world record in the clean and jerk lift. In 2017, Maurus brought home the U.S. men’s first world weightlifting medal in 20 years.
Although the pandemic threw a wrench in the 2020 Olympics, Maurus said it just gave him more time to prepare.
“Because our sport is kind of a ‘garage’ sport, we can isolate, and you don’t need much more to train besides yourself and a bar of weights,” Maurus said.
COVID did complicate things, he said.
“It took us out of the gym for a bit. We couldn’t travel to qualify. There was kind of that year of limbo that certainly made things more difficult, but I think we successfully used it as a year to get better. I was more ready now than I would have been a year prior,” Maurus said.
For the last two years, Maurus has lived in Suwanee, Georgia, where he trained under USA Weightlifting coach Spencer Arnold.
Leading up to the Olympics, Maurus went through a rigorous training schedule in which he worked out eight times a week. He worked out twice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and once every Tuesday and Saturday. Each session lasted about two hours, Maurus said.
Maurus said he couldn’t have gone to the Olympics without support from USA Weightlifting and his family.
“We have an excellent group of support personnel at USA Weightlifting. The entire staff have been crucial on the logistics side of things,” Maurus said. “Spencer Arnold, my personal coach, is really the one who got me where I am. Of course my parents and all of them have been fundamental in having my back and pushing me forward.”
His performance at the Tokyo Olympics was the culmination of 10 years of hard work. Maurus began weightlifting at 11 years old, after transitioning from the sport of gymnastics.
Throughout his time at Auburn Riverside High School, Maurus trained in clubs outside of school. The 2017 Anaheim World Weightlifting Championships is where Maurus realized he could take his career to the next level and try for the Olympics.
“I took home bronze and that was the first medal for an American man in the world championships in decades, I believe,” Maurus said. “That kind of accelerated the timeframe of when I thought I could make a bid for the Olympics. I realized I could make a 2020 bid.”
Maurus plans to return back to Washington shortly and focus on school, although he’s not sure where he will attend. He plans to study biology with a focus on pre-med. For the first time in a decade, his focus won’t be on weightlifting.
“I’ll be taking a little bit of a break. I haven’t really had a vacation in the decade,” Maurus said. “But weightlifting is always going to be something I do. It’s always going to be a part of me. I love this community too much to try and step away from it completely. I want to go to school and focus on a part of myself that I haven’t been able to.”
Maurus said he was happy to be able to represent Auburn through his performance at the Olympics.
“It’s awesome to be able to represent a part of Washington people don’t tend to think of,” Maurus said. “When I say I’m from Washington, people think of Seattle, so it’s nice to shine a light on Auburn. It’s a great city. I like it a lot.”