Sarah Robles

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

Sarah Robles
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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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Team USA’s Robles takes bronze in women’s 75+ kg weightlifting

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American weightlifter Sarah Robles fell short of her first Olympic gold medal, instead settling for bronze in the 75+ (165 lbs.) kg division.

WATCH: U.S. weightlifter Sarah Robles earns bronze medal in 75+ kg

Robles lifted a total weight of 286 kilograms in the snatch and clean and jerk lifts, with only China’s Meng Suping and North Korea’s Kim Kuk-Hyang posting higher totals. Kim surpassed Robles’ total on her first lift in the clean and jerk portion of the competition, with the 162 kg lift pushing her to a total of 293 kg, with Kim’s final weight lifted being 306 kilograms.

WATCH: They lifted WHAT?! Converting kilograms to other objects

While Kim’s total was impressive, she was outdone by Meng whose lift of 177 kilograms on her final clean and jerk attempt won her the gold medal. Meng finished with a total weight lifted of 307 kilograms, taking by gold by a single kilogram.

Robles’ bronze medal is the first weightlifting medal for the U.S. since 2000. During those Games, Tara Nott won a gold in 48kg and Cheryl Haworth won a bronze in 75+kg, and on Sunday Robles joined those two as the only American women to win a medal in Olympic weightlifting.