OU student, weightlifter Kate Nye wins silver medal at Tokyo Olympics

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Photo courtesy of AP sports

Kate Nye became the first American weightlifter in over 20 years to medal silver or better at the Olympics, earning a silver medal in the women’s 76 kg/156 lbs category on Sunday.

Jeff Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

Kate Nye’s five-year journey from CrossFit enthusiast to Olympic weightlifter culminated on Sunday when she won a silver medal in the women’s 76 kg/156 lbs category at the Tokyo Summer Games.

Nye came through, delivering the best weightlifting performance by an American Olympian in over two decades. While she was lifting for the gold, that silver medal draped around her neck felt pretty damn good.

“A silver medal is a huge victory for me and my country and I’m not going to sit here and cry about a silver medal,” Nye said. “As much as I’d have loved to win, this is just a huge moment for me.”

Nye lifted a personal-best total of 249 kg (549 lbs), with a 111 kg (245 lbs) snatch and a 138 kg (304 lbs) clean & jerk, also a personal-best. She is the first American to win silver or better in weightlifting since Tara Nott won gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

The 22-year-old from Berkley, Michigan started as a gymnast before transitioning to CrossFit and eventually weightlifting. Nye’s trip to Tokyo combined her love for the sport with her love for our country.

“I’ve always been really proud to be an American,” Nye said. “I think that paired with my greatest passion which is obviously weightlifting, there’s nothing that could be better and a bigger dream of mine, than to represent the red, white, blue on the Olympic platform.”

Nye’s ascension to the Olympic podium is a story of perseverance. In 2019, following a lackluster performance at the Junior Pan American Championships in Cuba, she fell into a serious state of depression. This experience was life-changing, she wrote about it at length for ESPN last May.

“Here I was, in the middle of the Olympic qualification process, not knowing if I could get out of bed,” Nye said. “Not knowing if I was going to live to see another day. I was literally chasing my dreams as an Olympic weightlifter while just trying to survive.”

During this difficult period, her husband convinced her to go seek professional help, leading to Nye being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. While this news was difficult, it presented a path forward.

“At the time I didn’t realize it, but that was the beginning of a new life for me,” Nye said. “… When I first got diagnosed, I had to sit with it. Understand it. Make sense of it. I had to figure out what this meant for my career. For my family. For my whole being.”

By opening up about her own experiences, Nye has used her platform to raise awareness about mental health and encourage others who may be struggling.

“I really just try to stay in tune with what’s going on with my mental health and try to live my life accordingly,” Nye said. “I think a lot of people deal with mental health issues and I think if you can manage them and not put too much on yourself and not be too hard on yourself, it can really help.”

As a student, Oakland University was the right place for her because it allowed her to continue pursuing her career in weightlifting.

“I wanted to pursue a weightlifting career first and foremost,” Nye said. “So [Oakland] ended up being pretty much the best option at that point in my life so I could stay home and focus on training instead of getting wrapped up in an on campus experience … I’ve really come to love OU and I’m really glad I ended up here because it’s allowed me a lot of freedom in my life [that] I feel like I wouldn’t have had if I went somewhere else.”