Weightlifter Mattie Rogers Already Eyeing 2028 Olympics After Having to Miss Paris: 'I'm Really Excited' (Exclusive)

The 28-year-old athlete competed at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games and is now focused on returning to international competition in Los Angeles

<p>CULT and Milani Cosmetics</p> Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

CULT and Milani Cosmetics

Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

Weightlifter Mattie Rogers has a positive outlook on the future despite missing out on the chance to compete in her second Olympics.

A lingering nerve injury hampered her bid for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, forcing the athlete, 28, to withdraw "from the remainder of Olympic qualification," she announced on Instagram in March. But the setback seemingly hasn’t affected her plans for continuing in the sport she loves.

A member of the Tokyo Olympics squad who competed in the 87 kg category (191.8 lbs), Rogers tells PEOPLE she went from being a gymnast growing up to a weightlifting champion after learning to "love the technical aspects" of the sport, which she says is "very similar feel in competition to gymnastics where it's you by yourself on a stage."

There's "nothing else," the athlete shares, revealing, "I think I felt kind of at home there."

Since then, she has earned four silver medals at the World Weightlifting Championships. In 2022, she set three new Senior American Records in the snatch, clean & jerk, and total categories. And it won't be long before she's already back to Olympic qualifications, which pick up again in two years.

<p>CULT and Milani Cosmetics</p> Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

CULT and Milani Cosmetics

Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

Related: Transgender Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard Makes History at Tokyo Olympics Despite an Early Exit

“Honestly, I'm really excited,” Rogers says now, while speaking to PEOPLE in conjunction with her new partnership with Milani Cosmetics, which has teamed up with the champion for the launch of its "Face Set. Mind Set.“ campaign showcasing the Make It Last Setting Spray.

She adds, "I think I'm more excited than I would've been had I made the Olympics. I was just really in a rough place and I was really hurting. And now I'm like, 'I'm feeling good.' ”

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Now “at peace” with not claiming a spot on Team USA, the injury — which she says affects her right side, from hip to leg — has paved the way for a new mindset. “I really think that this next season is going to be my best one yet,” she says.

“And right now, we're gearing up to qualify for the 2025 World Championships. And then from there, it'll just be starting the Olympic qualification process all over again. That'll probably start 2026-ish, so it's not that far away," she says, referring to the lead up to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. "So the focus is all on that. Be as healthy as I can, as strong as I can, and kind of be the smarter athlete this time around.”

<p>CULT and Milani Cosmetics</p> Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

CULT and Milani Cosmetics

Mattie Rogers for Milani Cosmetics

Related: Philippines Female Weightlifter Wins the Country's First-Ever Gold Medal: 'It's Unbelievable'

Rogers' positive outlook is partly to do with the strides she’s made in her own mental health. “I've always been a huge advocate of mental health and awareness and things, especially on social media because I'm clinically diagnosed with anxiety and depression,” she says.

“So, no secret, I'm no stranger to any of it. And once I came to terms with it myself a few years ago, I do really truly enjoy sharing those more vulnerable things. I do think it's really helpful, sharing my struggles,” she continues.

While her sights are now set on competing in the 2028 Games, she says she couldn’t have gotten there without being truthful about her own journey. “I think a lot of people see athletes as kind of robots and very tough, and we don't have all these struggles, which is very much not true,” she says.

Rogers adds, “But I think you can have your mental struggles and your mental illness, whatever it may be, and still be a really successful athlete. And I think there's a lot of athletes that are proof of that.”

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To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.com and come to people.com to check out ongoing coverage before, during and after the games. Watch the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, beginning July 26, on NBC and Peacock.

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