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Eyes on the prize

Olympic controversy, trials pressure doesn't faze Berube

April 12, 2008
By Dennis Grall -
COLORADO SPRINGS — Controversy is starting to tarnish the upcoming Summer Olympics, but that is not going to affect Jackie Berube’s plans.

The Escanaba native is presently in the fourth and final slot for the U.S. Olympic women’s weightlifting team. The team will be finalized May 17 at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta.

Picketers were at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here last week, and demonstrations throughout the world have marred the celebratory trip of the Olympic torch from Greece to China.

Talks of boycotts have also been heard, if not of the Summer Games then of the opening ceremonies.

If she qualifies for the Olympics, Berube does not want to take a back seat to a boycott.

“I’m not boycotting the opening ceremonies,” Berube said here Monday between practice sessions. “I’ve been trying my whole life, and not to participate?”

Asked about the protest at the center Saturday, Berube said, “if those picketers came here and watched me train for nine years, day-in and day-out, I don’t think they’d be out there.”

Despite her short career, she owns three American records, has won five world titles and has won at the Pan Am Games.

“There is nothing left to do except go to the Olympics and get a medal. The Olympics are the only thing I haven’t done in this sport,” Berube said.

Saying it and doing it are two different things. This will be her third attempt at the trials.

“You know what? It is getting harder and harder every year,” she said. “It is harder to get on the Olympic team than to get a medal.

“It is realistic, to get a medal at the Olympics, get a gold.”

A field of 35 women could be in the hunt at the trials for those four valuable slots. A big key for Berube, who competes at 58 kilograms, is finishing ahead of Melanie Roach. The Washington mother of three children is third and competes at 53k. She would be on the floor just ahead of Berube.

“As many as eight people are in the mix,” said Bob Morris, the women’s coach. “She has a 98, 99 percent chance of being on the Olympic team. There are two or three behind Jackie who have a chance. If Jackie can beat the lady in the 53 class, it will take a lot of pressure off her.”

Morris also said winning a medal at Beijing is largely dependent on the Chinese team. The field of participants will be filled out the day before the Olympic meet begins.

“You don’t know what classes the Chinese will lift in,” he said Monday. “We all know there are no athletes who can beat the Chinese.”

Morris said Berube has been “in a zone,” highlighted by winning the gold medal recently at the national finals. She lifted 89 kilograms (her U.S. record is 90 kg) in the snatch and did 105 kg in the clean and jerk.

He said “on the snatch she is about as technically efficient as she’s ever been. What we need in the next month is getting good proficiency and technique into the jerk.”

Article Photos

Jackie Berube, right, an Escanaba native, and coach Bob Morris have a discussion last week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center during a break in training for the U.S. Olympic Trials in women’s weightlifting, to be held May 17 in Atlanta. (Daily Press photo by Dennis Grall)



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