Olympic Weightlifter Morghan King Rose Quickly to the Top
Morghan King was interning as a graphic designer and working at an organic breakfast restaurant in Seattle when she put “real life” on hold to become a weightlifter.
Four years later, King is heading to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the Olympics. It’s been a rapid rise to the top for the 30-year-old strongwoman.
“I gave up my whole other life to pursue weightlifting for the dream of making the Olympics,” King said. “Once I put my mind to something, I go after it 110 percent. I was fortunate enough to have the support system to allow me to do that.”
The 5-foot, 106-pound King is one of only four athletes — three female — representing the U.S. in weightlifting. Kendrick Farris, Sarah Robles and Jenny Arthur also are going to Brazil.
King, who grew up in Redmond, Washington, played soccer at Notre Dame de Namur University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
She participated in triathlons after college before a friend of a friend suggested CrossFit. That led her to boyfriend Dean Kruse, who introduced her to weightlifting and has coached her along the way.
“I realized that I wanted to be very competitive again and when I decided to get stronger for CrossFit, I found weightlifting and fell in love,” King said.
King and Kruse moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, three years ago so she could start training for the Olympics.
“I tried ‘real life’ after I graduated college,” she said. “I love that side of myself but I am so passionate about athletics and sports that I always kept coming back to them. I now know that being involved in sports is where I’m supposed to be.”
King finished fourth in her first national meet at the 2012 American Open. She then dropped down from the 53-kilogram class to 48 kg and soon qualified for the 2013 International Weightlifting Federations World Championships.
Zygmunt Smalcerz, the resident weightlifting team coach at the U.S. Olympic training center, saw her perform and invited her to train under him in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
So King and Kruse packed their bags and moved again.
“There is no way I could have done it without Dean,” King said. “He has been with me since the beginning. Without his guidance and passion for the sport, my journey would have been pretty lonely.”
In 2015, Kruse resumed coaching King under the program guidance of Shahin Nasarinia, a former Iranian weightlifting champion.
King qualified for the Olympics by lifting a total of 180 kg — 80 kg snatch and 100 kg clean and jerk — at the U.S. trials in May.
She’s excited to make it this far but won’t be satisfied coming home empty-handed.
“It’s my goal to have a medal around my neck,” King said. “I know I have the capability to do it.”
No American weightlifter has brought home a medal since 2000, the first year women took part in the Summer Games. Tara Nott (48 kg) won a gold and Cheryl Haworth (75 kg) earned a bronze that year. U.S. men haven’t won a medal since 1984.
“We have a very competitive women’s team going to Rio,” King said. “I think not only myself but all of us girls have the capacity of bringing hardware home. I think that’s pretty special.”