Sarah Robles aims to cap strong showing for U.S. weightlifting women

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Jenny Arthur gave the U.S. women a third medal Wednesday in the world weightlifting championships, a feat that was unprecedented in this century. On Friday, Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles tries to make it an unfathomable four.

Robles has already ended two droughts for U.S. women’s weightlifters. In 2016, she took Olympic bronze to become the first U.S. women’s medalist since 2000. The next year, she was the first U.S. woman to win a world championship since Robyn Byrd in 1994. (Second behind Robles in the 2017 super heavyweight competition was Laurel Hubbard, a transgender athlete competing for New Zealand.)

READ: Hubbard faces uphill climb to qualify for 2020 Olympics

U.S. women were successful for the first years of world championship competition, which opened for women in 1987. When the sport debuted in the Olympics in 2000, Tara Nott and Cheryl Haworth won medals, with the diminutive ex-gymnast Nott being bumped up to gold after apparent winner Izabela Dragneva of Bulgaria failed a drug test, but no U.S. woman reached the podium again until Robles.

Haworth also was the last U.S. woman to win a world championship medal, a bronze in 2005, until Instagram star (619,000 followers) Mattie Rogers took bronze in 2017, three days before Robles’ gold.

Also in 2017, Harrison Maurus became the first U.S. man to win a world championship medal since Wes Barnett in 1997. No U.S. man has medaled this year.

This year, the U.S. women have already bested their 2017 breakthrough, starting with a 1-2 finish at 71kg, where Kate Nye won gold and Rogers took silver. Jenny Arthur made it three with her bronze at 81kg.

READ: Nye, Rogers go 1-2 at 71kg

Despite her resume, Robles will be an underdog in her weight class. She ranks fifth coming into the event, just behind North Korea’s Kim Kuk Hyang but farther behind the trio of Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina, China’s Li Wenwen and China’s Meng Suping, all of whom have lifted a total of 300kg between the two phases of competition (snatch, clean and jerk). Robles won the 2017 title with 284kg, when many of the top lifters weren’t present, and set an American record of 290kg to take fifth in the 2018 world championships.

In addition to the medals for combined weight between the two lifts, the world championships offer medals for each individual lift. Arthur won silver in clean and jerk, Rogers won clean and jerk silver along with bronze in the snatch, and Nye swept the gold medals on offer.

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