Sarah Robles became the first American women to claim a weightlifting medal in 16 years.
The 28-year-old, who is of Mexican descent, took home the bronze in the women’s over-75 kilogram category at the Rio 2016 Games.
“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, according to 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.”
China's Meng Suping won gold with 130 kilograms in the snatch and 177 in the clean and jerk for a total of 307, one more than second-placed Kim Kuk Hyang of North Korea.
Robles lifted 286 total, with 126 in the snatch and 160 in the clean and jerk.
After making her final lift, Robles sank onto her knees and gave a roar of delight, pounding her hand on the floor before blowing a kiss to the crowd.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 15, 2016
“I lifted all the weights tonight! Protein shake and a call to grandma is how I'll finish off my night,” Robles wrote on Instagram.
The last female U.S. medal winners in weightlifting were Tara Nott and Cheryl Haworth in 2000, when the women's events debuted at the Sydney Olympics. On the men's side, the last U.S. medals came in 1984.
“I’ve entertained the idea of being a medalist for a long time,” Robles told TeamUSA.org. “That’s always been a goal of mine. I’ve always wanted to make it [since] I got involved with weightlifting … This has been something that I’ve wanted, that I’ve been working for … The idea of being a medalist is always there. It’s almost like why you’re doing it. You want to win. I like competing, I like winning. That’s the purpose of what we’re doing.”
Robles began weightlifting in 2008. It was four short years later that she made the U.S. Olympic team for the London 2012, where she finished seventh.
However, a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned substance DHEA almost put a wrench in her Olympic future. Yet, she returned better than ever, placing sixth at the 2015 world champions.
“I know I’m a good and honest person, and if I put hard work in I would be able to reach my goals,” Robles told Reuters.