A 12-year medal drought for the U.S. weightlifting team has finally come to an end thanks to 17-year-old lifting phenom Harrison Maurus. Not only did the Auburn, WA, resident become the first American male to medal in 20 years, but he also broke his own Youth World Record this weekend at the 2017 IWF World Championships.

Maurus earned bronze in the men’s 77kg weight class with a 425-pound clean and jerk. In addition to that record-breaking lift, he secured a second bronze with his 767-pound total.

“I could not be more proud of the kid,” said Maurus’ coach Kevin Simons. “I’ve been working with him since he was a little boy, since he was 10 years old. To see him become one of the greatest American weightlifters of all time is surreal. It’s amazing.”

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Check out the big lift that snagged him the medal for Team USA below:

It’s been a long time since the red, white, and blue has been able to medal in any men’s weight class at the worlds. The last lifter to accomplish the feat was two-time Olympian Wes Barnett, who earned silver for his clean and jerk and bronze for his total in the 108kg weight class back in 1997. 

While no American man has been able to take home a medal at the IWF World Championships this century, it should be noted that an American female was able to do so. In 2005, Olympic lifter Cheryl Hayworth won two bronzes for her clean and jerk and total weight. Still, the lack of American presence on the medal stands these past few decades has been staggering. 

But things are looking up for Team USA following this year’s worlds, Maurus’ achievements aside. Mattie Rogers, who holds the records for snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight in the U.S., swept bronze in the women’s 69kg weight class, and Sarah Robles swept gold in the womens +90kg class. 

“Go big or go home,” Maurus said of his strategy for his bronze-earning lift. “Open nice at 87, get myself on the board, and then move to whatever I needed to put myself in medal position.” It’s a mindset that’s sure to make this American weightlifter a dominant force in the years to come. Between the 17-year-old weightlifter’s potential and the development of Team USA as a whole, U.S. weightlifing fans definitely have reason to be optimistic.  

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