Photo: Sarah Robles Goes to Olympics
Growing up in Desert Hot Springs, California, Robles competed in throwing events at San Jacinto High School. She became a top-ranked shot putter, earning scholarships to the University of Alabama and Arizona State University.
As part of her shot put training at a local Arizona gym under coach Joe Micela, she began doing Olympic-style lifts in 2008. That same year, after only three months of weightlifting, Robles qualified for nationals and stopped competing in shot put, losing her scholarship in the process. She won the silver medal at a 2010 Pan American competition and is a three time national champion. At the 2011 World Championships, she finished in first place among American woman weightlifters. Robles has qualified as one of two American women to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Despite being the highest-ranked weightlifter in the United States, Robles lived on less than $400 a month leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Commentators have suggested that this was the result both of the lack of popular attention to the sport of weightlifting, as well as Robles and other women in the sport having larger body types than those of women athletes traditionally portrayed in mass media. Robles has been quoted as saying that, “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.”
Robles has a deformity in her arm known as Madelung’s deformity, which results in an ulna that is shorter than normal and crooked. The deformity leads to significant pain during lifts, and Robles treats the pain with wrist wraps and warming creams.