Melanie Roach’s long and painful journey is over. She finally is going to the Olympics.
The 33-year-old mother of three from Bonney Lake secured one of four spots on the U.S. women’s weightlifting team for the Summer Games in Beijing, China, with a solid performance in the Olympic trials at Atlanta on Saturday.
Roach, an Auburn High graduate and former gymnast, fulfilled her dream eight years after missing the Sydney Games with a back injury and less than two years after surgery ended the pain.
“This is far better than anything I expected,” said Roach, an eight-time U.S. national champion. “I made the team in 2000, I wouldn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I do now.”
Roach, the top-rated lifter at the trials, will join Carissa Gump, Natalie Woolfolk and Cheryl Haworth for Beijing in August.
Competing in the 53-kilogram (117-pound division), Roach made all three of her lifts in the snatch, the heaviest at just over 178 pounds. In the clean and jerk, she easily cleared 229 pounds before clinching her spot on the Olympic team with a lift of nearly 240 pounds on her second attempt. She failed in her final lift at 244 pounds, but already had locked up a spot.
For Roach, it was sweet satisfaction.
She left the sport five years ago to start a family and business, and successfully campaigned for her husband, Dan, who now is in his fourth term as District 31 State Rep. But three years ago, she decided to give the sport another try. Only after major back surgery did she begin to feel better and stronger.
Roach, under Coach John Thrush, now wants to make some noise in Beijing.
“It’s not just about getting there,” she said. “I want to put myself in a position that a medal may be an option.”