When you first meet Carissa Gump, the words Olympian and weightlifter might not rush to mind. At 5 feet 1 inch tall, she’s been called “too tiny” and “petite.” Yet thanks to Herculean encouragement from her mom and school gym teacher, Gump’s weightlifting career culminated at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, where she placed 14th in the women’s middleweight category. Along the way, Gump married fellow competitive weightlifter Jason Gump in 2006, attended world competitions and broke U.S. weightlifting records. Now, she is a key cog in USA Weightlifting’s business development team—a position that allows Gump to give back to the sport she lifted herself to new heights for.
How has your Olympic experience shaped your career?
After competing, I went home early. I’d always gone to college throughout my weightlifting career, and I felt that chapter in my life was done, so I started [back to] school that week while the games were still on. I graduated in 2010 from the University of Colorado and was the first Olympian to graduate from sports management. Then I took a position with the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athlete liaison with the athlete career program. It definitely helped that I had a successful Olympic career, but you need an education too.