There are two things here, the first is that oly wl, is in decline. Now that the eastern block machine has been disassembled and the people brought up by it retired and spread throughout the world. The 76 OG was won with a C & J of 255 (shoot me if I'm wrong) and the super WR has not been equalled since the late 80's.
The reduction in standard caused by better drug testing (although there has been an explosion in unrestrained GH use in sprinting) and the end of the soviets lead them to reinvent weight classes, just so that the public and media would see WRs again not stagnation.
America has stagnated in a sport that is stagnating.
Now regarding the quote above, weightlifting was not always fringe. Back in the 60's Louis Martin & Bill March won national & international bbing comps, Vern Weaver Mr A 1964 had a 370 C & J Ralph Kroger from So Cal had a 270 snatch plus other respectable lifts.
If you wanted to have creditablity in the weight room back in the 60s you had to have a decent Clean and a press meant something.
Powerlifting attracted many of weightlifting's possible devotees, but the lack of attraction of OL to the public has been a problem since the early 70's. Ken Patera a very good shotputter, was the best US lifter in 1971. WR shot holder Feurbach got of a plane from Europe, and got 2nd at the US nats, in 1973 just for fun, Bruce Whilhelm, went from a guy who could not medal at the US T & F nats in shot to the best US super.
Napier an ex discus thrower, who realised his height was against him was a US champ, and The best shot put jr in around 73-74 turned up and won the US jrs, doing power snatches and power cleans, beating the kids groomed by the US camps who never went anywhere.
Yep think OLs problems are cultural, but the buzz "olympic" and the eletism that the word conjures has definitely given it traction. Lots of interest, just hope you guys can turn it into something other than people posting U-Tube videos of their 150lb squat cleans.
Actually I would go as far as saying if you are not pulling hard correctly by 21, your chances of success are next to nothing, no matter what they do. It is a strength sport, not ballet.