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Weightlifting: Chestatee graduate Arthur could still qualify for Tokyo Olympics after COVID-19 pushes back 2020 Summer Games
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Jenny Arthur of the United States competes in the women's 75kg weightlifting competition Friday at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. - photo by Mike Groll

Chestatee graduate Jenny Arthur is one of the top weightlifters in the country and already an Olympic veteran having participated in the 2016 Summer Games. 

And while Arthur did not qualify in 2020, recent events just may give her a second chance.

Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the 2020 Olympic games, scheduled to begin this July in Tokyo will be postponed a year into the summer of 2021, due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. 

And while no decisions have been made on how this will affect qualification for the delayed games, Arthur believes she could get another shot. 

“It seems that the qualification is going to be a little different, and they’re re-evaluating the qualification system going into this next year going into 2021,” she said. “That’s what it looks like. It looks like I may have another chance to qualify.”

Olympic weightlifting qualification underwent a complete overhaul after the 2016 Summer Games, and the new system — called the Robi Points system — may very well work in Arthur’s favor. 

The Robi Points system was put into place primarily as an anti-doping measure to make sure international weightlifting stays clean and cheating athletes are held accountable. 

Instead of having all qualifying done at one event, the Robi system requires each athlete to participate in various competitions throughout an 18-month qualification period. 

Competitors are tested at each event, preventing them from qualifying and then using down time between qualification and the Olympics to dope and maximize progress illegally. 

The IOC has made no announcement on any changes to qualification standards, but Arthur believes weightlifters will be forced to compete between now and the 2021 Games to make sure they are still clean. 

“The reason why we have the Robi Point system is just to keep a lot of the doping athletes on point,” Arthur said. “That way, they’re not going to take this whole year and use it to their advantage to dope without having competed or having to be tested through international or national competition. And so they may have it to where they’re going to make some of the athletes compete every so often, just so they can be on track with all of the athletes from other countries to make sure everyone is still on track with clean sport.”

Supplemental qualifying competition could give Arthur the chance to increase her Robi point total enough to qualify her for 2021. 

Even if points aren’t adjusted, it’s likely that all athletes will be subjected to several doping tests in the next year, and any failed tests from American athletes would bump Arthur up the list. 

It’s not an opportunity Arthur is counting on, but it’s one she’s holding out hope for. And if all else fails, she will have her eyes turned to another four years down the road. 

“I may have another chance to qualify for the Olympics (in 2021) and get myself in a better position, and I may not,” Arthur said. “If not, I’ll just shoot for 2024.”

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