Sarah Robles

Photo via Sarah Robles/Facebook

Robles ended a 16-year medal drought for U.S. women’s weightlifting

Sarah Robles just became the first U.S. woman to medal in weightlifting in 16 years. The 28-year-old is a native of California and is often referred to as the strongest woman in America.

On Sunday, Robles took home the bronze medal in the 75-plus kilogram division.

But for Robles the win is much more than a medal for her country: She hopes it’s an inspiration for young girls who are struggling with body image issues. Robles told Reuters:

“This means a lot, to be on the podium and give exposure to our sport at a time when it’s already growing. 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.”

Robles outweighed her competitors by about 20kg; she was also returning to the sport after testing positive for DHEA, testosterone, and pregnanediol. Her website claims that the positive test was a result of PCOS treatment.

Robles has also struggled to get endorsements and had to work menial jobs while training for the Olympics. She told BuzzFeed in 2012, “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 and her body positive message have been embraced on social media.

Robles, who identifies as a feminist told MSNBC on Monday, “If I’m the loudest voice, then there’s no one else in my mind telling me that I can’t do it.” That’s a message worth repeating. 

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