Lifter: Drop dude attire
LONDON — Just because Sarah Robles competes in a sport dominated by men, it doesn’t mean she wants to look like one.
But at 5 feet10 inches and 270 pounds, America’s top-ranked weightlifter says she mostly wears workout clothes made for men because women’s athletic attire rarely comes in her size.
‘‘I’m wearing a dude’s jacket right now. And a dude’s shirt. Dude’s sandals. A dude’s hat. I’ve got a dude’s watch. I’ve got a dude’s everything,’’ Robles said during a training session in London this week with coach Joe Micela.
On Sunday, she and US teammate Holley Mangold will compete in the women’s super heavyweight division. Both say they hope the Olympic spotlight will give their sport more recognition in the US, which hasn’t won a weightlifting medal since 2000.
Robles, a 24-year-old Californian who trains in Arizona, says the Olympics also give her a forum to encourage the fashion industry to make a greater variety of athletic clothes for plus-sized women.
It’s an issue she often discusses on her blog. In one posting, she recalled photo shoots with other Olympians where she had to put on men’s clothes because the women’s clothes provided didn’t come in her size. The men’s clothes were big enough, but didn’t fit very well.
‘‘I don’t think I have a dude-shaped body,’’ Robles said, her laughter drowning in the clang of barbells crashing to the ground at the ExCeL center’s cavernous training hall.
Robles said one of the misconceptions about weightlifting is that the sport will make women look like a man or become a man somehow.
‘‘And that’s completely wrong. I think being strong and confident and doing what you love makes you more feminine because you are not afraid to be yourself,’’ she said.
For a long time, weightlifting was a man’s world. It was on the program of the first modern Olympics in 1896 but women weren’t allowed to compete until the Sydney Games in 2000.
In the US, the sport’s status has fallen since the 1950s, when the United States was the world’s No. 1 weightlifting nation. Mangold, Robles and 85-kilogram lifter Kendrick Farris are the only Americans competing in London, with personal records far below the top-ranked lifters in their respective weight classes.
‘‘I feel that in my sport, both genders are overlooked,’’ she said. ‘‘Would my chances be better if I were a male? Who’s to say?’’
The question hung in the air for a few seconds before Micela answered: ‘‘As a heavyweight, yes.’’