When you think of Olympic sports, a few specific events probably come to mind: Swimming! Gymnastics! Running! Events like weightlifting might not be on our radar here in America—possibly because weightlifters, particularly the women, don’t necessarily conform to our dumb heteronormative beauty standards the way other athletes might, and possibly because the U.S. hasn’t fared very well in that sport in a while. Either way, that’s all changed thanks to Sarah Robles, who just won bronze Sunday in the women’s over-75 kg competition. This is the first medal the U.S. lifting team has won since 2000, when Tara Nott won gold at Sydney (American men haven’t medaled since 1984). And the Mexican-American athlete is hoping that her win will inspire others.
“This means a lot, to be on the podium and give exposure to our sport at a time when it’s already growing,” Robles said, according to Reuters. “It’s good not just for me, but for women of size, for women who want to get up off the couch and do something different.”
She also hopes to encourage young Latinx athletes. Earlier this month, before the Olympics, she told the Spanish news agency EFE, “As an Olympic athlete, I represent all Americans, but representing Latinos and Latinas is a great honor.”
Robles got into weightlifting at first as a way to crosstrain for discus throwing in high school, but she realized that she had a lot of potential in weightlifting and soon began to compete in weightlifting events. In 2013, Robles was handed a two-year doping suspension from the US Anti-Doping Agency after she tested positive for banned substances, which she claims she took as a treatment for her polycystic ovarian syndrome.
“My Latino Olympic pals and I hope to inspire the next generation of Hispanic kids to go into the streets, to play and try to become Olympic athletes,” she told Fox.