No Olympic medal, but a new U.S. weightlifting record for Auburn’s Roach in Beijing

Reporter staff

An Olympics medal proved elusive, but Melanie Roach broke her own 10-year-old American weightlifting record on Sunday at the Beijing Olympics.

The Auburn High school graduate finished sixth in the 53-kilogram weight division at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnasium.

The 33-year-old Roach, now a Bonney Lake resident, hoisted a combined total of 193 kilograms (425.5 pounds). That eclipsed – by half a kilogram – her previous U.S. standard of 192.5 kg (424.4 pounds) set on April 24, 1998 in that same 53 kg weight division in a competition at Flagstaff, Ariz.

The former gymnastics star at Auburn 83 kilograms (183 pounds) on her third and final attempt in the snatch after earlier lifts of 79 kg (174.1 pounds) and 81 kg (178.5). In the clean-and-jerk, her third attempt also was her best, as Roach hoisted 110 kg (242.5 pounds). On her first two tries, she lifted 105 kg (231.485) and 108 kg (238.1).

In that Flagstaff meet a decade ago, Roach – then known by her maiden name of Melanie Kosoff – set the American clean-and-jerk record for the 53 kg weight division with a lift of 113 kg (249.1 pounds). That record still stands.

The gold medal was won on Sunday by Thailand’s Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon with an Olympic-record total of 221 kg (486.2 pounds). She lifted 95 kg (209.4) in the snach, then 126 kg (277.78) in the clean-and-jerk.

South Korea’s Jinhee Yoon took the silver at 213 total kg (469.584 pounds), and Natassia Novikava of Belarus got the bronze, also at 213 total kg. (Yoon earned the higher medal because of a lower body weight.)

A back injury forced Roach to miss the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She retired after that to start a family, then decided to return to the sport.