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Jourdan Delacruz lifting a ton of weight over her head

Heavy Lift: Alumna Eager to Compete at the Olympics in Weightlifting

Jourdan Delacruz, '23, earned one of just three highly sought after women’s weightlifting spots on Team USA to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games.

In less than a month, Jourdan Delacruz, ‘23, will be boarding a flight to Paris, France, to embark on an experience she’s been pursuing for the last year and a half. She earned one of just three highly sought after women’s weightlifting spots on Team USA to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games.  

This will be Delacruz’s second appearance at the Olympics. She competed in the 2020 Tokyo Games but didn’t take home a medal and returned home the day after she competed. This year, she says, will be different. 

“Because this is my second time around, I’m in a better place,” Delacruz said. “I’m feeling a lot of positive emotions — so less anxious, less pressure. I’ve just been soaking up the experience and really enjoying this time.” 

This year, the weightlifting competition will take place toward the end of the Olympic Games unlike in 2020, when weightlifting was one of the first competitions. That means Delacruz will be able to attend the opening and closing ceremonies.  

“I’m so excited. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Delacruz said. “I also want to be able to watch other sports and obviously compete and be with my family and friends right after.” 

Getting stronger 

To reach the position she is in now, Delacruz made training at the gym her top priority. It became a routine she remained committed to, balancing her workouts while finishing her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics through the University of Northern Colorado’s online program. Since her graduation last December, her focus has been all about gaining and maintaining strength. 

More: Delacruz’s journey to weightlifting

“I’ve had this whole semester and the summer to just focus on weightlifting,” Delacruz said. “That’s been a great opportunity for me to reset, take care of my body so I am well prepped for the Games.” 

Snatch: lifting a barbell from the ground to over her head in one continuous motion.

Clean and jerk: moving weight from the ground to the front of her shoulders (clean) and then shifting it from her shoulders to overhead (jerk).

In weightlifting, athletes can compete in seven qualifying events. Then, Team USA takes the overall highest-ranked athletes. So, athletes fight to be top-10 in their respective weight class to become Olympic eligible, and then they make the team by being one of the top-3 lifters in their gender. They achieve their ranking from what’s called a “total” – their top snatch weight from competition plus their tops clean and jerk weight. In Delacruz’s case, combining her best snatch and best clean and jerk, her total weight ranking was 200 kilos (440 lbs.).

“That total stood well enough for me to not have to go to the last few qualifiers,” Delacruz said.

Delacruz is going into the Games as a two-time world medalist and three-time Pan-American Championships medalist. She ranks fourth in the world at 49 kg and holds eight American records across three weight classes. She said her biggest competition is female athletes from China, India and Thailand. While coming home with a medal would be an amazing accomplishment, Delacruz feels there is a bigger opportunity here. She wants to be a role model for female athletes. 

Inspiring girls and women in the gym and beyond 

“I want to be an inspiration to all girls and women, especially those who want to try weightlifting or want to step into the gym,” said Delacruz. “I know it can be kind of terrifying, but I hope that I’m being a positive influence to show that it is possible.” 

Delacruz didn’t plan to become a weightlifting champion when she was younger, she was actually focused on cheerleading. But once someone suggested that she start training in the gym to improve her cheerleading skills, she realized how essential it is. 

“It doesn’t have to be your job like it is mine, but if you want to play softball or another sport, weightlifting and getting stronger is still a great thing to do,” Delacruz said. “Or even if you want to improve your overall lifestyle, getting into the gym helps. And hey, women getting stronger is never going to be a bad thing.” 

Delacruz launched an online space,Herathlete, in 2023 during her final year in college to focus on supporting female athletes. The platform provides information for athletes on topics like periods, menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding and birth control since she found these topics were not being discussed in athletic spaces. 

“Weightlifting has historically been a male-dominated sport and is still mostly made up of male coaches, though our female lifters are breaking world-class standards yearly. This makes the discussion around female-specific topics difficult to convey effectively,” Delacruz said. 

Just like her goal in the Paris Olympic Games, Delacruz hopes to lift up female athletes and create a space that will provide them access to necessary healthcare, making them stronger and more resilient in all kinds of ways. 

“I hope that Herathlete will one day become more of a collaborative setting with different sport professionals, physical therapists and psychologists and strength and conditioning coaches all working together in one place to provide athletes all the support they need,” said Delacruz.  

Delacruz is slated to compete in Paris on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

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