In 2013, Sarah Robles was sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) following an in-competition drug test at the 2013 Pan-American Championships. Following her two-year ban from weightlifting, Robles returned to competition at the 2015 National University Championships.
Robles totaled 276kg in her first event back, but was then shrouded in controversy. Because of Robles’ ban, she was not competing in the World Team Trials at the National University Championships. However, following the event, the Board of Directors voted to add Robles to the roster of the 2015 World Championships as an alternate. This created a firestorm as Caitlin Hogan was removed from the 2015 World Championships team and Marissa Klingseis was moved down to an alternate and replaced by Robles.
Sarah Robles went on to compete at the 2015 IWF World Championships taking 6th in the +75kg weight class with a 279kg total. Robles’ placement helped the Women’s team secure three quotas for the Olympic. In addition, her total would put her atop the rankings to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics heading into the 2016 Olympic Trials in May.
With Jenny Arthur already awarded a spot on the Olympic team, that left two spots up for grabs. Robles held on to the top spot ahead of Mattie Rogers. Morghan King sat in 3rd needing a strong performance to push her way onto the team. King did exactly that with an amazing performance vaulting her to the top of the Olympic team rankings.
Robles, however, would fail to record a snatch and bombed out of the Olympic Trials. However, Rogers was unable to surpass Robles’ score from the 2015 IWF World Championships sending Robles to her second consecutive Olympics.
On Sunday, Robles was the final athlete from the United States to take the platform. Following several doping bans, Robles was expected to compete for the podium. After going 3-for-3 on the snatches, Robles sat in 3rd place, 4kg ahead of Huisol Lee (KOR). During the clean and jerks, Robles continued where she left off going 3-for-3 again and finishing with a 286kg total.
Robles would have to wait several more attempts until Shaimaa Haridy (EGY) would attempt 169kg in a last ditch attempt to steal the bronze from Robles. Haridy’s final attempt was unsuccessful and Robles won the bronze medal, the first American weightlifting Olympic medal in 16 years.
In 2000, Tara Nott and Cheryl Hawarth took home medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The U.S. men have not won an Olympic weightlifting medal since 1984.