On Sunday, August 14, Latina weightlifter Sarah Robles won an Olympic bronze medal in the women’s over-75 kg. category. She is the first U.S. lifter to win a medal in 16 years.
According to Fusion, Tara Nott, who won gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was the last to achieve this distinction. The men haven’t placed in the top three since 1984.
A Mexican-American, Robles views her win as an opportunity to encourage Latinx athletes and Hispanic children of the next generation.
“As an Olympic athlete, I represent all Americans, but representing Latinos and Latinas is a great honor,” she told the Spanish news agency EFE.
To Fox News she said, “My Latino Olympic pals and I hope to inspire the next generation of Hispanic kids to go out in the streets, to play and try to become Olympic athletes.”
Robles came to weightlifting by way of cross-training for the discus in high school. When she recognized her affinity for the sport, she left discus throwing behind and began to compete as a lifter.
In 2013, her career came to a two year pause when she was banned for doping by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. However, Robles claims that her irregular drug test results, though caused by banned substances, were the result of treating polycystic ovarian syndrome — not an effort to enhance her athletic performance.
But now, with only cause for celebration, Robles hopes to bring further visibility to her sport. She moreover regards this victory as a means of combatting the perpetuation of gender norms and female bodily normativity.
“This means a lot, to be on the podium and give exposure to our sport at a time when it’s already growing,” she explains to Reuters. “It’s not just good for me, but for women of size, for women who want to get up off the couch and do something different.”
Watch Robles compete in the video below.