With the Olympics creeping up, athletes all over the world are packing up their belongings, and heading for Rio on a journey of a lifetime. Mexican-American heavy weightlifter, Sarah Robles, is no different. Robles first attended the 2012 London Olympics and will now compete in the 75-plus kilogram division at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but her story is one full of struggles, perseverance, and triumph. Here are five facts you should know…
How She Got Started
Growing up Mormon in the Desert Hot Springs of California, the former Girl Scout started off her career as a shot putter and discus thrower.
“I started weightlifting as part of a program to get in shape for discus throwing,” she shared with Fox News Latino. In 2008 she broke into the weightlifting scene alongside coach Joe Micela, the small interest that later on sparked an unexpected, life changing passion. Robles soon let go of discus throwing, and began to compete in championships throughout California in 2010. She won silver medals in both the 2008 Junior World Championship and the 2010 Pan American Games, and won the 2015 Russian Federation President’s Cup.
When she’s not in the gym breaking a sweat, the hardcore athlete enjoys the total opposite. Her favorite pass times include “old lady activities” like crocheting, wood working, leather crafting, reading and camping. Unlike most athletes, Robles maintains a steady diet of her favorite foods: Mexican pozole and chilaquiles. While chowing down on her Mexican treats, she watches her favorite shows including Arrested Development, Spongebob, Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, Quantum Leap, and Law & Order SVU.
Latinos Stand Up!
Growing up Mexican-American played a big role in Robles life and career. “As an Olympic athlete, I represent all Americans, but representing Latinos and Latinas is a great honor,” she said. In a world full of Trumps, she aims to inspire young Latino athletes through her own success.
“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 shared.
When she’s not repping her Mexican roots, she’s voicing her thoughts on sexism as an athlete. “You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy,” she told Buzzfeed. Constantly dealing with criticism for being a woman with “male” muscles, she began to use social media (and her great sense of humor) to touch base on these issues.
Alongside close friend Jessica Gallagher, Robles created a blog addressing the sexism in her field. “What we wanted to accomplish with the blog was to make it more female-oriented because we feel that our sport is so male dominated,” she told NBC Sports. “And we feel that there are so many prejudices or stereotypes or misunderstandings about women and weightlifting and any form of strength training or strength and conditioning.”
She’s a physical embodiment of self love that empowers little girls throughout our nation to be passionate about something, even if it is something considered out of the “norm.” However, no matter how physically strong she might be she still struggles with societies perception.
“I still have bad thoughts about myself, but I’ve learned that you have to love yourself the way you are,” said Robles. “I may look like this, but I’m in the Olympics because of the way I am.”
With her tough exterior it’s hard to see the struggles she’s had to overcome physically, as well as emotionally. One unknown fact about Robles is her struggle with Madelung’s deformity, a malformation in her wrists and wrist bones. This deformity causes a shorter radius in her arms and pain during hard lifts. She treats her deformity with wrist wraps and creams, but even more, with her positive outlook on life, and with strong support.