The journey of a Mormon Olympic weightlifter

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

While working out during her redshirt year, Robles impressed Micela. He thought she had Olympic potential.

“She took to it real easily. She has unbelievable athletic ability; she’s fast, agile and strong,” Micela said. “She went to some national competitions and medaled in everything, so she left track and field, at a good program, to pursue weightlifting.”

Micela began helping her train, including diet and psychologically, for a spot in the London Games.

One challenge Robles has had to overcome in pumping iron is Madelung’s deformity, a congenital deformity of the forearm that causes pain when lifting. Robles wears wrist wraps, rubs on warming cream and receives massages to help ease the discomfort, but ultimately has to ignore the pain. She also works hard to care for her hands and prevent calluses from ripping.

“What I do is just do everything I can to help strengthen up that area and keep it as healthy as possible,” she said.

Robles qualified at the U.S. Olympic Women’s Weightlifting trials in Columbus, Ohio, in March. She lifted the highest total (258 kilograms) of 15 competitors. Holley Mangold, the 22-year-old sister of New York Jets center Nick Mangold, claimed the second spot.

Micela thinks the gold and silver will go to China and Russia. The bronze will be a fight among Nigeria, Samoa, Korea and the United States, the coach said.

“She has a good shot at the bronze medal, but it's not going to be easy,” Micela said. “Anything could happen; someone could have a bad day. But it's her fourth year of major competition. She been around them and knows what they expect. Now it's going out and doing what she can do.”

Getting stronger

Robles hopes that all of her hard work will culminate in a strong performance at the Olympic Games this summer. Coach Micela and several family members will be in London to cheer her on.

“It won’t feel real until I get there. I’m excited,” she said. “I’d hate to disappoint all the people who helped me along the way. I’m grateful their help.”

Sarah also acknowledges the heavenly help that she’s received.

"I've relied more on my faith as difficult times have come in my career. There's been a lot of little miracles. I don’t know why, but God wants me on the Olympic team and he has blessed me in the journey,” Robles said. “I just needed to have faith, do everything on my end that I can possibly do and know that God would fill in the blanks.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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