News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters woman is grand slam champion

Jennifer Banning has been knocking off masters weightlifting titles at a torrid pace. Earlier this month, the elite Olympic weightlifter accomplished an exceptionally challenging goal: She completed a grand slam, winning gold in USA Masters Weightlifting’s Nationals, PanAms, World Championships and the American Masters within a single calendar year.

Banning competed in the 50-54 age bracket and the 55-kilogram weight class. She also won best lifter for the age group across all weight classes. In the American Masters, she went six-for-six, completing all her lifts in the clean-and-jerk and the snatch.

In the clean and jerk, the lifter “cleans” the barbell to the shoulders, then “jerks” it overhead. In the snatch, the lifter “snatches” the barbell off the floor, directly overhead in one continuous motion.

Banning was especially proud of her 53k snatch in the last tournament — a near-bodyweight lift performed with a partially torn rotator cuff.

The shoulder injury didn’t come from any specific incident, and she was able to work around it.

“Training had to be smarter, lifts had to be more perfect,” she said.

Working through injury reflects the demands the quest for a four-tournament grand slam put on Banning.

“It takes a lot out of you,” she said. “As an aging athlete, you do a lot better if you do one or two each year.”

It’s not just the toll on the athlete, Banning noted. Constant training and lots of travel — especially under COVID conditions — requires commitment from athletes’ families as well as the athletes themselves.

Banning notes that three of the four tournaments (with the exception of the World Championships) were held in person, under very strict COVID–safety protocols.

Banning acknowledged feeling “a little bit of relief” now that the arduous season is successfully completed. She plans on “a little bit of rest — at least through the remainder of the year.”

But the Sisters lifter is not planning on resting on her laurels. She “ages up into the 55-59 age bracket next year — which means there are new age-group records to pick off.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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