100 Days of Olympians: Tara Nott-Cunningham, weightlifting

Posted at 8:00 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 18:44:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tara Nott-Cunningham, who was raised in Stilwell and graduated from Blue Valley High School, became the first U.S. woman in Olympic history to win a gold medal in weightlifting, which debuted at the 2000 Sydney Games.

She also ended a 40-year gold-medal drought overall for the U.S. in weightlifting with her winning performance in Australia.

No U.S. weightlifter had won gold since Chuck Vinci in 1960 before she was awarded first place in the 48-kilogram flyweight class after a Bulgarian weightlifter was disqualified for using a banned diuretic to make weight.

Nott-Cunningham, who went on to become an outspoken advocate for clean competition, returned to the Olympics four years later, placing 10th in the flyweight division during the 2004 Athens Games.

She remains one of only three U.S. women to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting — super heavyweight Cheryl Haworth won bronze in 2000 and super heavyweight Sarah Robles won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games — and the only gold medalist.

U.S. men won 12 gold medals in weightlifting before 1960, but Nott-Cunningham is the only U.S. gold medalist in the past 60 years.

She also is the only athlete in history to have trained in three different sports at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where she also trained for gymnastics and soccer.

Nott-Cunningham, who also won gold medals in weightlifting at the 1999 and 2003 Pan-American Games, has been inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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