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Team USA dominates world junior championships with debutant winner

Posted : 21 November 2023
Day six of the World Junior Championships in Guadalajara saw the United States secure a debutant winner and a 17-year-old silver medallist, propelling Team USA to the top of the medals table. Elijah ‘EJ’ Hein clinched victory in the men’s 89kg category, becoming the third American winner of the Championships, while Ella Nicholson finished second in the women’s 76kg, behind Ecuadorian Kelin Jimenez.
Hein, a 20-year-old CrossFit enthusiast, celebrated his first international meet with a remarkable six-from-six performance, setting new personal bests in all categories. Jimenez, a seasoned competitor at 20, claimed gold with a strong performance despite her last year's near-catastrophic injury.
Hein, a successful CrossFitter and weightlifter, expressed his joy after seven years of hard work, achieving his first international win. His remarkable six-from-six performance in the men’s 89kg category marked his debut on the global stage.
Hein’s coach, Ray Harkness, highlighted his potential, recalling telling him two years ago that he could achieve such success. The American weightlifter plans to continue his dual pursuits of weightlifting and CrossFit while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Oklahoma.
In the same category, the Individual Neutral Athlete Inhatsi Pauliukavets from Belarus secured second place, showcasing his strength with lifts of 156-192-348. Despite missing the European Junior Championships, Pauliukavets exceeded the performance of Europe’s top three juniors.
The Georgian Zurab Mskhaladze claimed the third spot with lifts of 155-191-346. European champion Suren Grigoryan and European bronze medallist Ertjan Kofsha faced challenges, with Grigoryan unable to make up a 12kg deficit and Kofsha finishing fourth.
In the women’s 76kg category, Ecuadorian Kelin Jimenez emerged victorious, maintaining her status as a junior weightlifting star. With a wealth of experience, Jimenez secured gold with lifts of 104-130-234. Ella Nicholson, a 17-year-old American and youth world champion, claimed silver with lifts of 105-122-227.
 Despite missing three attempts, Nicholson displayed determination, attempting a youth world record total on her final lift at 127kg. Mexican Angeles Cruz secured the third spot with lifts of 100-123-223. Jimenez, motivated by her successes, plans to continue competing at her current weight in the senior category.


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