“This means a lot, to be on the podium and give exposure to our sport at a time when it’s already growing,” Robles said, per Reuters. “It’s good not just for me, but for women of size, for women who want to get up off the couch and do something different.”
Robles, from Desert Hot Springs, California, had a trying journey to the Rio podium. After placing seventh at London 2012, the athlete served a two-year ban for testing positive for a banned substance in 2013, losing financial support, according to California newspaper The Desert Sun.
She said she unwittingly took an over-the-counter supplement that contained the prohibited substance. “I know I’m a good honest person and if I put hard work in I would be able to reach my goals,” she said, per Reuters.
Robles, who is Mexican-American, said before the games that she wanted to inspire other Latinos. “As an Olympic athlete, I represent all Americans, but representing Latinos and Latinas is a great honor.”
Robles’ medal is even more monumental considering that no American man has medaled since 1984, Deadspin noted.
Only two American women ― Tara Nott (gold, Sydney 2000) and Cheryl Haworth (bronze, Sydney 2000) ― have earned hardware in Olympic history, according to NBC. Robles had a combined total of 286 kilograms, finishing behind gold medalist Meng Suping of China (307kg) and silver medalist Kim Kuk-hyang of North Korea (306kg). The latter had also previously served a drug suspension.
World record holder Tatiana Kashirina of Russia, who earned a silver in London, did not compete because she was banned for past doping along with other Russian lifters, Yahoo reported.