This biography is an updated, corrected, and expanded version of the information on Wikipedia regarding Sarah Robles.
Sarah Elizabeth Robles (born August 1, 1988) is an American weightlifter and two-time Olympic athlete. Robles has been called “the strongest woman in America.” She qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England; she placed seventh in the Women’s +75kg Group A Weightlifting event on August 5, 2012. Robles lifted for Team USA for the Women’s +75kg division at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She won the bronze medal on Sunday, August 14, 2016. Robles’s final score was 286 kg.
Robles has been training under coach Tim Swords since 2014. Swords owns the Team Houston Amateur Olympic Weightlifting and Physical Conditioning gym in League City, Texas.
Early life & family
Robles was born in San Diego, California, to Joy and Dennis Robles. She has one older brother. Robles’s father passed away in 2006.
Robles’s paternal grandfather was Mexican. His ancestors were from Ures, Sonora, Mexico, and one particular ancestor, Bernabe Robles, founded the town of Three Points, Arizona, which is also known as Robles Junction. Robles is also related to June Robles, whose kidnapping as a girl made international headlines in the 1920s.
Robles grew up in Desert Hot Springs, California. She got involved with track and field sports beginning while in eighth grade at North Mountain Middle School. Robles graduated from San Jacinto High School in San Jacinto, California, in 2006.
Robles competed in throwing events at San Jacinto High School where she became a top-ranked shot putter, earning scholarships to the University of Alabama and Arizona State University. As part of her shotput training at an Arizona gym under coach Joe Micela, Robles began doing Olympic-style lifts in 2008. That same year, after only three months of weightlifting, Robles qualified for Nationals. She won the silver medal at a 2010 Pan American competition and is a four-time national champion. At the 2011 World Championships, she finished in eleventh place in her weight class but first place among American woman weightlifters. Robles qualified as one of two American women to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
As mentioned above, Robles lifted for Team USA for the Women’s +75kg division at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She won the bronze medal on Sunday, August 14, 2016. Robles’s final score was 286 kg.
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.” A company called Solve Media sponsored Robles during 2012. Superfit Hero activewear and BEyou Cosmetics are sponsoring Robles as of spring 2016, and Robles is also being featured in advertisements by SVOBODA 360 Stretch Jeans.
Robles was sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation for two years, from August 8, 2013 through August 8, 2015, after WADA found her in-competition test at the Pan Am games positive for DHEA. Because of how the WADA publicly lists testing results by group category rather than individual drugs, many have mistakenly said Robles also tested positive for testosterone and pregnanediol when she did not—testosterone and pregnanediol are both metabolites of DHEA.
Robles mentioned in her public statement regarding the ban that her general physician had recommended DHEA supplementation as part of a treatment plan for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
“My doctor and I worked together to try different treatment options for my PCOS, as a preventative measure. Because my progesterone and DHEA levels are naturally quite low because of PCOS, my doctor felt that supplementing with DHEA would help balance things out in my system. We did not feel that bringing my DHEA to a normal level would be contradictory to my stance as a clean athlete.”
As Robles failed to file a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) prior to the positive tests, her appeal of the suspension for medical reasons was denied.
The ban was lifted in autumn 2015, and Robles immediately preparing for the 2016 Olympic Trials. She qualified for Team USA on May 9, 2016 at the US Olympic Trials held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Robles’s personal records prior to the Rio Olympics 2016 (as of July 2016) were as follows:
- Snatch: 124 kg
- Clean and jerk: 157 kg
- Jerk: 155 kg
- Back squat: 230 kg
- Front squat: 205 kg
Other awards and accomplishments
Robles won Female Athlete of the Year in 2011 from the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 2016, she won Best Female Lifter at the National University Championships; she is the National University record holder in clean and jerk as well as total weight lifted.
Prior to her weightlifting career, Robles won several awards and competitions for discus throwing: All American in Discus, 2006; California State Champ in Discus, 2006; Golden West College, Mt. San Antonio College, and Arcadia University’s Invitational Champion in Discus, 2006; San Jacinto High School’s Team Captain, 2005 and 2006; and San Jacinto High School’s MVP, 2005 and 2006.
Charity work, volunteer work, and advocacy
Robles is known for supporting body positive fitness and media.
Robles handed out medals at Youth Nationals in 2016. Robles has been a volunteer coach for Team Houston Weightlifting Club in League City, Texas (2014 through present) and previously for Northern Michigan University’s Men’s Club Track and Field Team in Marquette, MI (2009). She was a power lifting team volunteer for the Annual City of Tempe Special Olympics in Tempe, Arizona each year from 2010 through 2014.
Robles participated as a volunteer at the KaBOOM! Project event in Desert Hot Springs, California in 2013, which was sponsored by the Humana Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley -Desert Hot Springs, and the City of Desert Hot Springs.
Robles has also been a featured speaker at the Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Graduation Ceremonies in Mesa, Arizona (2012) and at the San Jacinto Valley Women’s Conference in San Jacinto, California (2013). She was the featured celebrity in the Desert Hot Springs Christmas Parade in Desert Hot Springs, California in 2012.
Robles was always large for her age, and she first found out she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in 2007 when she was nineteen years old. PCOS has affected Robles’ weight adversely and has caused other health problems for her as she has gotten older.
Robles also has a deformity in both her arms known as Madelung’s deformity, which results in a radius that is shorter than normal and bowed. The deformity leads to significant pain for Robles during lifts, and she treats the pain with wrist wraps and warming creams. Like many athletes, Robles receives massage therapy and chiropractic care in order to help alleviate the strain weightlifting places on her body.
Robles converted to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when she was seventeen years old. She remains an active member in her church to this day.
She enjoys a variety of leisure activities, including geocaching, leather crafts, wood working, hiking, camping, and watching B and C movies.