Sarah Robles
USA Weightlifting

U.S. ends world weightlifting title drought; transgender lifter gets silver

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Sarah Robles, who in Rio earned the first U.S. Olympic weightlifting medal since 2000 (super heavyweight bronze), on Tuesday became the first American to win a world title since 1994.

The 29-year-old lifted two fewer kilograms than she did in Rio — a total of 626 pounds between the snatch and the clean and jerk in Anaheim, Calif.

The last American to win a world title was Robin Byrd in 1994.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard took silver with 606 total pounds, the first-ever world medal for her country.

Hubbard, 39, previously competed in men’s weightlifting as Gavin Hubbard, according to Reuters, which reported that Hubbard continued to decline interviews Tuesday, as she has for much of this year.

“She stayed away because she was embarrassed, probably,” Robles’ coach, Tim Swords, said, according to Reuters. “When Sarah beat Hubbard in the snatch, we were congratulated by multiple coaching staffs. Nobody wanted her to win.”

Hubbard may be the first openly transgender athlete to compete at a world championships in an Olympic sport. No openly transgender athlete has competed at an Olympics, though Olympic rules allow it.

Robles, Hubbard and others benefited from the absence of countries banned for doping issues, like weightlifting powers China and Russia, and North Korea, another strong lifting nation, not sending a team.

Chinese and North Korean lifters won gold and silver in the super heavyweight division in Rio.

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U.S. Olympic women’s weightlifting team complete; no Holley Mangold

Holley Mangold
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The U.S. is sending three women’s weightlifters to the Rio Olympics, but 2012 Olympian Holley Mangold is not one of them.

Fellow London Olympian Sarah Robles, who served a doping ban from 2013 to 2015, and first-time Olympian Morghan King joined the already-qualified Jenny Arthur on the Rio team following the Olympic Trials in Salt Lake City on Sunday night.

No U.S. man has earned an Olympic place yet, but eight will head to a Pan American qualifying event in Colombia in June for the chance at one U.S. berth.

Mangold, the younger sister of New York Jets Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold, completed one of her six lifts at the Olympic Trials, dealing with wrist problems in training, according to NBC Sports Live Extra commentators.

Mangold finished 10th in the super heavyweight class at the London Olympics and 13th and 23rd at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. She also tattooed the Olympic rings on the side of her head.

Robles, also a super heavyweight, was the top U.S. lifter across all men’s and women’s classes at the 2012 Olympics (seventh place) and the 2015 Worlds (sixth place).

She tested positive for an exogenous androgenic anabolic steroid and/or its metabolites in 2013 and was banned for two years until last August. Robles said she took the supplement DHEA to treat a hormone disorder, which led to the failed drug test.

She failed to complete a snatch lift Sunday, but results in previous competitions boosted Robles onto her second Olympic team.

“I’m glad things ended up working out, because it was kind of hell for those last couple years,” Robles said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The eight men who will vie for one possible Olympic spot in a Pan American event in Colombia in June are 2012 Olympian Kendrick Farris plus Norik Vardanian, Alex Lee, Caine Wilkes, James Tatum, Wesley Kitts, Travis Cooper and Donovan Ford.

The U.S. has not won an Olympic or World Championships weightlifting medal since 2005.

MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Rio Olympics

World records fall at Weightlifting World Championships

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Article by Dan Levinsohn

Ten world records fell this week at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships, which concluded last night in Houston, shedding light on who will contend for a medal next summer in Rio.

The tournament brought together 609 lifters from a record breaking 98 participating countries, with men competing in eight different weight classes and women in seven.

The athletes didn’t waste any time getting to work rewriting the record books. On the first night of competition in the men’s 56kg division, London gold medalist Om Yun Chol of North Korea lifted a 171kg in the clean and jerk. His previous world record stood at 170kg, set at the 2014 Asian Games.

Though Om claimed his fifth total title at the World Weightlifting Championships with 302kg, he barely took gold over China’s snatch winner and London silver medalist, Wu Jingbiao, who lifted the same total weight. Om ultimately won through body weight tiebreaker. Neither the snatch nor the total lifts were all-time bests.

Some of the other world records included Azerbaijan’s Boyanka Kostova winning 112kg in the snatch and 252kg total in the women’s 58kg division, China’s Deng Wei lifting 146kg in the 63kg category’s clean and jerk, and Russia’s Aleksey Lovchev lifting a 264kg clean and jerk and a 475kg total in the men’s +105kg competition. Snatch world record holder and London gold medalist Behdad Salimi of Iran (+105kg) could not compete in this year’s Championships due to a recent knee injury; he recorded his highest-ever total, 465kg, at the 2014 Asian Games.

Asian countries continued to dominate most fields, with China placing first in six of the 15 total categories and North Korea and Chinese Taipei winning one title each. Overall, Chinese women won 11 gold medals, nine silver, and one bronze, ranking first in the overall medal table. Though China’s men won seven gold medals, three silver, and one bronze, Russia’s men took first place with seven golds, four silvers, and two bronzes.

The United States saw particularly impressive results from its female athletes, who finished 14th overall in the women’s medals. In the 75kg division, Jenny Arthur placed seventh in the clean and jerk with 138kg; she placed eighth in total with 244kg. In the +75kg category, Sarah Robles claimed a 122kg snatch and 157kg clean and jerk for a sixth place total finish of 279kg.

Perhaps the Championship’s most dramatic moment occurred during the women’s 75kg event. North Korea’s Rim Jong-Sim, who previously won gold in the 69kg division at the London Olympics, injured herself during her third snatch attempt (video here). First, she tore the labrum in her left hip. Then, defying doctor’s orders, she injured a stretch muscle and hurt her left knee on three subsequent clean and jerk attempts. She collapsed soon after her lift and was eventually hoisted onto the awards-ceremony podium by her fellow athletes, ultimately finishing second.

NBC Researcher Dylan Howlett contributed to this article from Houston.