Melanie Roach, Weightlifting, USA

What would happen if you woke your husband up one morning in 2005 and told him you intended to claim a spot on the 2008 United States Olympic weightlifting team? Fortunately for Melanie Roach, her husband Dan Roach took it all in stride and supported her just as she had always supported him.

Mormon Olympian Melanie RoachMelanie isn’t new to the world of weightlifting, but her first Olympic dreams were to be a gymnast. After an injury and reconstructive surgery that restricted her abilities to compete in gymnastics, she skeptically took the suggestion of a gymnastics judge to take up weightlifting. Within three months of beginning, she qualified for and took third in her weight class at the American Open Championships. 1998 found her identified as the number one ranked female lifter in the United Sates after claiming a world record in the clean and jerk. Her Olympic dreams were now firmly centered on weightlifting in Sydney, 2000, but once again there would be a setback. Only three weeks before the trials, Roach herniated her back and did not participate in the Olympics that year.

Roach decided to put her Olympic dreams aside to follow other dreams: mainly, to be a supportive wife and mother. Husband Dan Roach is a four-term state representative from Washington. He and Melanie have three children, one of whom is autistic. Because of this, Melanie is a proud member of “Athletes Against Autism.” They also own and operate Roach Gymnastic, Inc.

Melanie’s weightlifting accomplishments have included: 13th place at the 1999 World Championships, 12th place at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships, and 1st place at 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008 US Nationals.

Melanie claimed her spot on the 2007 United States national team by lifting twice her body weight for the first time since her injury. She also won the bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Championships in Brazil.

On August 10, 2008, Melanie Roach took 6th place in her 53-kilogram weightlifting class at the Olympics. She had a cumulative Snatch (a lift over the head in one fluid motion) result of 83 kg (79, 81, 83) and an aggregate Clean & Jerk (a lift completed in two stages) result of 110 kg (105, 108, 110). Her overall total was 193 kg. For those of us who are mathematically impaired, that’s approximately 133, 176, and 309 lbs, respectively. Not bad for a 5’1”, 117 pounds, 33-year-old, LDS (Mormon) mother of three. Oh, and by the way she was competing against women ranging in ages from 19 to 27.

Melanie’s entire life has been about developing strength: physical, spiritual, and character. She commented in an interview with LDS Living, “I try to enjoy the process and not worry so much about what may or may not happen . . . If you’re busy worrying about the past or the future, you can’t enjoy what you’re doing right now. You’re missing it. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to not only represent the United States but to be an ambassador for the Lord, as well as for autism awareness. Whatever happens now, it’s not for me. I feel totally fulfilled by the process of getting to this point.”

Melanie is currently serving as a Sunday School teacher and maintains a website at


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