As an aspiring young gymnast, Melanie Roach‘s commitment to excellence took her all the way to the Washington State High School Championships but an injury sidelined her from the competition. Rehab included her introduction to free weights and soon thereafter a future and powerful star was in the making.
Shattering the stereotypical body image of weightlifters, the petite former gymnast quickly made it clear that strong things come in small packages – really strong things! Her first competition, the 1994 American Open, also brought her first trip to the medals podium with a third place finish. In 1996 Melanie Roach made the personal commitment to pursue her potential in weightlifting to the fullest and set her sights on the 2000 Olympic Games. She soon thereafter stunned the weightlifting world by exceeding the world standard in the clean and jerk at the 1998 US National Championships. Melanie Roach had become the #1 ranked US weightlifter and the first one in history to clean and jerk more the twice her body weight. She was poised for a 2000 Olympic debut.
Devastatingly, weeks before the Olympic Trials competition Melanie Roach suffered a serious back injury. Her Olympic dreams, along with any future in the sport, appeared to be suddenly over.
With her athletic career in shambles and apparently behind her, Melanie picked herself up and moved on. She opened a business and started a family. She put her energy into assisting her husband, Dan, in his election to the Washington State House of Representatives while opening her own business. Her husband is now in the midst of his fourth term, her gymnastics school serves over 500 students and together they have three young children. All the while Melanie still yearned to compete.
In the summer of 2005, Melanie decided that it’s never too late to chase your dreams. She returned to competitive weightlifting. By March of 2006 she reclaimed her spot on the US National Team and won her 6th US National Championship. She went on to place 12th at the World Championships. She underwent state of the art back surgery, not available years earlier when she left the sport. The result was her 7th US National Championship (2007) and the first time since 2000 that she clean/jerked twice her own body weight. Melanie Roach was back!
In August of 2007 Melanie went on to win a bronze medal at the Pam Am Games in Brazil, officially marking her return to the highest levels of international weightlifting. She competed in the 2007 World Championships in September and qualifed for the 2008 Olympic Games at the US National Championships in February. Melanie Roach is currently ranked number one in her weight class (53 kgs / 117 lbs.).
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing Melanie placed 6th in the 117 lb weight claass, her best finish in the international competition. Her combined lifts, totaling 425.6, broke the american record set in Sydney in 2000 by over 1 lb.