Kateri Peters, a 24-year old Harford County native and 2015 graduate of Havre de Grace High School, celebrated the Fourth of July like none she had before.
Peters, who competes in Olympic weightlifting, was in Detroit, Michigan, to compete in the 2021 USA Weightlifting National Championships and she did good.
“Still on a little bit of a high from it, it was really cool,” Peters said recently about her bronze medal efforts there. “I actually did nationals in 2020, but that was virtual. That didn’t go bad, it was just weird,” she said.
Peters competed in the 76 kilogram weight class which is 167.2 pounds. “The most competitive weight class for me is the 76, so I needed to cut to be able to make it to that weight,” Peters said. “It wasn’t super easy, but it was definitely necessary in the sport, to be good at cutting weight, so it’s something I’m going to have to do anyway.”
There were 12 competitors for Peters to battle with and against in the two forms of Olympic weightlifting; the snatch and the clean and jerk.
The snatch requires the lifter to take the bar overhead in one motion from the ground and the clean and jerk has the lifter take the bar from the ground to the chest and then overhead.
Peters said she started at 89 kilograms (195 pounds) in the snatch portion of competition. Lifters get three lifts and along with coaches, choose what weight to lift. Peters said she didn’t lift any heavier weight in the snatch.
In the clean and jerk, it was a different story and maybe somewhat life-changing. Peters lifted 120 kilograms (264 pounds) in clean and jerk and that’s what won her a bronze medal.
Her performance total was a whopping 459.8 pounds.
“Going into it, I thoroughly, I always try to have zero expectations. I don’t want to know what’s happening, I don’t want to know what anything means. I just go there and whatever my hard work has made me able to do, is what I want to do,” Peters said. “If that’s last place, then it’s last place. If that’s first place, that’s first place, so when I was going there I didn’t have any expectations, I had no idea what to expect.”
Peters added, “So, being able to stand on the podium was very rewarding and it definitely has continued to fuel the fire that I feel for the sport. It definitely makes me want to continue and it makes me also, I can see now that it’s possible. My goals are attainable.”
Those goals include a push to be part of the 2024 Olympic Games. Peters got a real look and taste for the greatness in Detroit.
“The girls that I was competing against are the most prestigious of the prestigious,” she said. “When I was on the podium for the third place in clean and jerk, I was literally holding hands with the girl who’s going to the Olympics. Every single person that is going to the Olympics were there competing. That was neat to be able to see them in their element doing their thing and even cooler to hold her hand in third place.”
The moments keep Peters focused. She knows that most of the competitors have been at this Olympic weightlifting for years.
Peters is just two years in.
“The fact that I’m two years in and I’m competing with them, is something that is shocking for me. It’s motivating me for sure,” she said. “So, I think what a reasonable goal would be now is the 2024 Olympics. That will give me, essentially, two years of consistent training. The only thing I can do is keep working hard. That’s literally the only thing I’m concerned with. If it happens it happens and if not, I can still say that I’m pretty strong.”
Peters, who will be 25 in November, owns CrossFit Killshot in Smyrna, Delaware. Peters also bought a house in Delaware.
“I worked there since they opened, but I recently bought it from the original owner back in January,” Peters said.
Peters does much of her training in her own gym, but does travel to BASA Gym in Baltimore one time per week to work with coach Jason Morstein.
As for her role as a gym owner, Peters said, “My hope is that, whatever anyone’s goals are, my ultimate goal is to make them feel like it is attainable.”