At only 20, Mattie Rogers is quickly becoming one of the most notable figures in all of U.S. weightlifting. Thanks to a video that went viral a few weeks ago, Mattie has become a big name online in the lead-up to this summer’s Olympics. This past Sunday, Mattie attempted to secure her spot on the U.S. weightlifting team during a trial in Salt Lake City, but everything did not go according to plan. But while we may not see her competing in Rio this year, it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of Rogers.
Here now to get you up to speed are seven things you need to know about the American weightlifting sensation.
She’s A Viral Sensation
Mattie is already known for being one of the strongest and youngest females in her weight class, but it took for the above video for the world to begin to catch on to Mattie’s lifting prowess. In the short clip, Mattie drops a heavy barbell that rolls towards the front of a gym, smashing through the exterior glass. Yes, it was a mistake (obviously) on Mattie’s part, but the clip has since gone viral with almost 3,000 retweets. It’s also responsible for pushing 30,000 new followers to her Instagram feed, so, as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity.
She Knows How To Silence Haters (Hint: She’s Doesn’t Listen)
View this post on Instagram
With the attention brought in from my recent video, I wanted to say a few things. Hi new friends 🤗 I'm not entirely sure why the video blew up, it's not that unusual to have weightlifting fails, nor is it THAT funny, but it happened. Whether good or bad (#nosuchthingasbadpublicity), I'm happy to see this much publicity being brought to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. It is not a main stream sport. It is not a sport many people know about. In fact, I guarantee half the people who watched that video thought it was CrossFit. No, I'm not a crossfitter. No, I'm not a Power Lifter (#IDontBench). Absolutely no hate to either of those, by the way. Support in all sports over here. We compete in the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk only. No, using a spotter for our lifts is not a good idea. And no, our knees and backs will not be "thrown out"…. We in fact know what we are doing and are trained to perform the lifts the way we do. It's kind of sad that THIS of all things gets the worlds attention, but hey can't complain! Having such a large reach not only allows me to bring exposure to the sport, but hopefully educate the average person a little more about what it is we actually do. Olympic Weightlifting in America is not a huge sport. We as lifters get a lot of harsh comments because of our lack of competitive performances internationally. Well, more exposure, more people involved, larger talent pool… All steps in the right direction. @hookgrip @atginsta both have great pages to see examples of lifting from all around the world for anyone looking. The Olympic Weightlifting community is small in comparison to other sports, but we're growing. Those involved have found their passion and their joy in lifting and competing. It's not for everyone, but for some it is everything. The confidence, mental and physical strength and experiences learned and found within this sport are incomparable. So I'll end my too-long rant with this: be nice in your comments on that stupid video, women are strong af contrary to what some of you believe and welcome to the world of Olympic Weightlifting…. Or my version of it anyway 💁🏼 #FBGM
Along with viral fame comes a swarm of negativity — the two go hand-in-hand these days it seems. Trolls enjoy spilling their venom on just about anything that gets publicity, and Mattie’s video is no different. But, Mattie pays no mind to the haters, and in fact, she feeds off of them. In the above Instagram post, Rogers writes, “It’s not for everyone, but for some it is everything. The confidence, mental and physical strength and experiences learned and found within this sport are incomparable. So I’ll end my too-long rant with this: Be nice in your comments on that stupid video, women are strong af contrary to what some of you believe and welcome to the world of Olympic Weightlifting…. Or my version of it anyway.”
In an interview with Bleacher Report, Mattie explained how she silences critics by not paying attention to them.
A majority of the negativity that came from that video was from people who have absolutely no knowledge of the sport; therefore, their opinion matters even less to me. Social-media followers always seem to try to counsel me about how to feel about ‘haters.’ But I don’t think they understand that I literally do not pay any attention to them nor do I care what they have to say.
She’s Broken Eight Records So Far
This February, Mattie competed in the -69 kg class at the 2016 USA Weightlifting Junior Nationals. At only 20, Rogers broke eight records: two for the snatch, three for the clean-and-jerk, and three overall records. Her performance in the Junior Nationals counted towards her tally for Olympic qualification, and with just one more great performance (more on that later) she would have solidified a placement on this year’s Olympic weightlifting squad.
Her Late Father Is One Of Her Inspirations
View this post on Instagram
Alright so apparently it's #nationaltattoostoryday and we about to get alllll emotional with this one. I'm not one to share much of my personal life with anyone, but I feel that this is has shaped me into who I am today. My life would have gone a completely different direction of it weren't for the struggles myself and my family have gone through. So here's my first tattoo: my father passed away at age 38 from colon cancer (age 6 for me). He fought long and hard with my mom and the rest of us by his side, but unfortunately did not make it. He wrote letters to us kids before he passed and I was given mine when I turned 18. In it he made sure we knew we were loved, we knew he would be there for us if not physically, than spiritually, that we always respected our mother and used our manners and made a point of repeating that nothing worth having comes easy. In fact, mine was ended with: "Whatever you do in life, do it well, do it to the best of your abilities and take pride in it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right." I got the tattoo as a constant reminder that he is with me. And that taking the easy way out is never the right decision. The years following were a struggle for all of us, but it is that struggle that made me stronger. That struggle shaped me into who I am now. So now as I travel the world I always have a part of that letter with me; a part of him with me. He mentioned in that letter that he hopes he's here to see me make the Olympics (I was a gymnast at the time), and I work every single day to get one step closer to reaching that dream and that goal. #allthefeels #iloveyoualways
Tragedy befell Rogers and her family in 2001, when her father died after a battle with colon cancer at only 38. Mattie was 6 at the time of his death, but she carries his memory with her… literally.
Before he died, Drew Rogers wrote his daughter a letter of inspiration, to keep climbing the mountain of greatness and to never quit no matter how steep the climb may feel. “No matter what happens, I will be with you always,” he wrote. “If not physically, then spiritually.”
Mattie received the letter when she turned 18, and she had her father’s words inked onto the side of her torso. “I knew I would receive it when I turned 18, but I had no idea what it would say,” she told Bleacher Report. “I happened to get it at a very rough time in my life and right around when I had decided to commit fully to weightlifting. I had tossed around the idea of the Olympics in my head prior to then, but once I read that I knew I had to go for it with everything I had.”
She Started As A Gymnast And Cheerleader
View this post on Instagram
Not here to leave you another novel about women empowering women and blah blah blah, just here to tell you…. Girl, you show off what you work for with pride. Every curve, bone, roll, battle scar and perfect imperfection. Ya look damn good ✌🏽️#ACTIONSnotjustwords #whorunthismuthaaaa #girls #featziplockbagwhy
Before she got into competitive weightlifting, Rogers was a gymnast and competitive cheerleader. When she turned 17, Mattie discovered Crossfit, an amalgamation of difficult bodyweight and free weight exercises. Her love of Crossfit segued into a love of lifting, and Mattie soon found herself attempting Olympic lifts after only one year of training. After her very first meet in 2014, Mattie became hooked on competitive lifting, and it has been her primary passion ever since.
“From [crossfit], I started practicing weightlifting more and more, and I found out how technical it is, and how precise you have to be, and how much work goes into making it look like the elite lifters look,” she told USA Today.
She’s Got A Badass Background
Some people were just bred to be badass — their pedigree is a mix of potent genetics and historic badassery all-around. Mattie is one of those people. Her paternal grandfather was Navy Capt. Gerald B. Rogers; he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. That’s three major conflicts that Captain Rogers served in, and that makes him a hell of a hand during war skirmishes. Mattie is representing her country in a different manner, but there’s little doubt that her grandfather is watching with eyes gleaming in the great above.
She Came Up Just Short Of The Olympic Team
There were three spots left on the Olympic weightlifting squad, and this past Sunday, Rogers attempted to show and prove. Mattie’s coach believed that if she could lift a combined total of 539 pounds, she would have secured a spot in the Olympics in Rio. Unfortunately, Mattie did not complete her final lift of 141 kg. The failure allowed her teammate, Sarah Robles, to place over her. Mattie fell to second place and lost her chance to vie for the Olympics.
Still, Mattie was strong enough to set one record and match another in the 69 kg. class. Rogers explained on Instagram how she was “heartbroken” with her performance.
View this post on Instagram
For 2 years I've played catch up. Gotta improve 5kg at this meet. 10kg at this meet. PR both lifts at this meet. Just to make up for lost time from starting so late into the quad. 99% of the time, I've some how squeezed by. Earning a spot here, there, setting this record or that record. Improving my total by 60kg since the first time I was ranked as an alternate for the Jr Pan Am team in 2014 and the never ending game of catch up began. I haven't competed in a single competition in the last two years that an increase was not necessary. I have pushed and fought my way to the top few spots first in the junior division, then slowly in the senior division. This time, I didn't have what was needed in me. I fought with everything I had and though it was possible, I lost this battle. Heart breaking is an understatement. Making the Olympic team is all I've ever wanted. It is everything I have thought, dreamed, worked and LIVED for every single day for the last 2 years. Those who I've seen discredit me because "this isn't a popularity contest, she just isn't good enough. The ranking is the way it is for a reason"; you're wrong. I am good enough. I am strong enough. And I will come back better. The ranking is based off of very specific numbers and a process that is probably too confusing for most to understand. It is very disrespectful to bash someone because of their social media presence. It means nothing in this sport. What matters is what is lifted. After a slight confusion and miscalculation, I was awarded best lifter at the USAW Senior National Championship and Olympic Trials. An award given based off of Sinclair (body weight to weight lifted percentage), naming me the number 1 lifter pound for pound in the United States. Granted it means nothing in terms of the Olympic team, but it a nice award to receive. On to the next, Pan American Championships next month. This is not the end, it's just the beginning. Congratulations to the 3 women representing the United States in Rio @jenny.arthur @kingmorghan @roblympian, you all deserve it. #EarnedNotGiven #HeadDownEyesForward
“I fought with everything I had and though it was possible, I lost this battle. Heart breaking is an understatement. Making the Olympic team is all I’ve ever wanted,” she wrote.
With her fighting spirit, it’s only a matter of time before she realizes her potential and makes the U.S. Olympic team.