Professional weightlifter from Desert Hot Springs, Sarah Robles, otherwise known as the strongest woman in America is getting ready for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. This is Robles’ third Olympic berth, during the 2016 Rio Olympics, Robles took home a bronze medal. She was the first man or woman to win a medal for the United States in weightlifting since 2000.
The pandemic has thrown Robles and every athlete in the world for a loop after the Tokyo games were postponed in 2020. Robles says that preparing for these summer games has presented an entirely new challenge to her and her teammates.
“It was difficult planning, mostly for our training, and how exactly we were going to execute qualification when things are getting postponed and canceled all the time. But then it’s also an extra year of wear and tear on your body. So that’s a little rough too. So there’s the challenge of staying motivated for me because I really am competition-driven. If there’s no competition, I get kind of stir crazy, like, why am I training? What’s going on? You know, like, the day-to-day isn’t as fun for me as the competition.”
This year, Team U.S.A is taking the largest and arguably most talented weightlifting team in the country’s history. According to Robles, this is also the first time in her career where Team U.S.A. has come together in the individual sport of weightlifting.
“This is the first quad, or the first like four years preparing for the Olympics that I’ve been a part of where we’ve had training camps and, and other activities that have really done a good job of helping the athletes bond and become a real team. It’s an individual sport, sometimes, we’re competing against each other to qualify for things. So in the past, it’s kind of been every man, woman, and child for themselves. But now there seems to be a lot better of a team atmosphere, and that’s been fun, it’s been very supportive.”
Congratulations to our largest Olympic team since 1996! We can’t wait to watch you on the world’s greatest stage this summer!
— USA Weightlifting (@USWeightlifting) May 19, 2021
“We all literally get along, I feel like we would all probably hang out with each other in our outside time, that environment and that camaraderie is really important because we’re doing really hard work, so we need to have a good foundation and good relationship with each other just so we can, like, maintain our good mental health and, and have great performances on the stage.”
Robles grew up in Desert Hot Springs and went to San Jacinto high school, where she was a top-ranked shot putter for the track and field team. Robles began her weightlifting career in 2008 while living in Arizona. Robles says that she does not feel any extra pressure, knowing that she is representing everyone back home. She is just proud to carry herself as an Olympian and making every American proud when she steps out onto the world stage.
“I know that when I wear my Team U.S.A. jersey, that I’m representing every American on that stage, so I just try my best to have a good impression left on the other countries of what the U.S.A. is all about. When I was growing up, I remember my grandpa telling me when you leave the house, you’re representing God and your family, and so that’s something that I take with me when it comes to sports. When I’m on that stage, I’m representing God, I’m representing what he has done for me in my life. So I’m just trying to do the best job I can at it.”
Sarah Robles’ successful weightlifting career has not come without a few hardships, and although enduring the twists and turns of life is tough, Robles kept ahead by keeping her eyes on the Olympic prize.
“I think being able to overcome a lot of those struggles was because I kept my eye on the prize. When you get involved in a sport like this, any Olympic sport, you’re getting involved in it because of the spirit of Olympism. You’re doing it because this is where your talent is and where your passions lie. I’ve always done it because I have goals that I want to achieve and because I really enjoy what I’m doing.”