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Escanaba’s Berube falls just short of making Olympic team

May 19, 2008
By DENNIS GRALL, Escanaba Daily Press
ESCANABA — Jackie Berube’s dream of going to the Olympic Games in China ended by mere kilos Saturday.

Berube finished sixth at the Olympic Trial weightlifting in Atlanta, dropping two spots. The top four women advance to Beijing in August. The top seven are on the Olympic team.

The Escanaba missed her final attempt at 113 kilos in the clean and jerk, forcing her to settle for a lift of 109 kg.

“I knew when I didn’t make the clean and jerk I was going to get bumped,” Berube said Sunday in a telephone interview from the Atlanta airport. “I didn’t think I would get bumped down as far as I did.

“It was a very small percentage, less than a kilo off making the alternate. I was three kilos total from making the team. The door was open. I had the weight overhead to make the team, but I was out of position and couldn’t hold onto it.

Berube had a total lift of 196 kilos in the 58 kg division, but was only graded on one lift in snatch and two in clean and jerk. She lifted 87 kg in her one good snatch attempt.

“I made my snatches. The first and third lifts my elbow bent so even though I made it, I didn’t get credit for them,” she said. “That set me behind. My elbows are not straight all the way so that is a slight disadvantage to begin with.

“I made the snatch, but they called it a press. I needed to make more snatches and I needed to make the last clean and jerk. I had it up there and I just got out of position and couldn’t hold on,” she said of her attempt at 113 kg.

She is the American record holder in clean and jerk in the 58 kg weight division with 113 kg (248.6 pounds). She is also tops in total at 200 kg (440 pounds) and snatch (90 kg, 198 pounds).

Berube, who also competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials, said she maintained her focus this time of taking one lift at a time.

“The only lift that was really bad was the first snatch. I got a little excited, a little nervous and didn’t get a good position,” she said. “After that, I felt great. It was my best Olympic Trials experience.”

With just one good snatch lift, Berube knew clean and jerk would determine her fate. “I made the 89 k snatch easy (in her final attempt) but the elbows bent and it didn’t count. Then I knew I had to do more clean and jerk than I had planned. I wouldn’t have needed as much in clean and jerk if I had made more in snatch.”

Berube said the elbow situation has been present since birth and noted other lifters have the same problem. “They just don’t lock out. I don’t have bone-on-bone lockout connection,” she said. “I have to rely more on strength to hold the bar over my head. It is just something I have to deal with.”


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