Rio Olympics Blog — Day Seventeen: A wild medal story appears

A U.S. weightlifter smiles with her bronze medal

The last couple of days in Rio have been a struggle. But Sunday was a change of pace for the better.

After working a pretty mundane morning/afternoon shift for the website, I headed to Riocentro, just 3 kilometers away from the media center, to cover Sarah Robles’ weightlifting quest for gold. Initially, the trip got off to a rough start. Apparently the shuttle to the second pavilion in the complex was lost and they couldn’t get any other bus to use on that route.

That left about 10 of us without a ride until the shuttle to the fourth and sixth pavilions in the complex arrived and we managed to convince the driver to make an extra stop at the second pavilion.

Oddly enough, this actually helped me out. I ended up sitting next to the U.S. press officer for weightlifting and was able to explain my situation and get a bit of background about Robles. There would be no issues with mixed zone and press access.

Not that there was going to be anyways. No one looked at my credential when we walked into the pavilion and there was no access control point for the mixed zone. I had everything I needed.

The competition was interesting. I ended up watching from the press center onsite since it was right next to the mixed zone and I wasn’t sure how quickly she and the other lifters would come out from the event. You could here the roar of the crowd a second ahead of the television in the room and it was quite electric. These smaller sports might not have a big number of fans, but those who are there are quite passionate and supportive.

Robles had an amazing competition. She completed each of her six lifts and made them look quite easy. She finished with a total weight of 286 kilograms, which in the end gave her the bronze medal. I finally got a bronze medal story.

I vividly remember her looking like she had just won the gold medal after her final lift, dropping to her knees, pounding the floor and blowing kisses to the crowd. As I wrote about in the medal story about her for the Houston Chronicle (there may or may not be a paywall), she had a two-year suspension because a medication she had taken for a serious health issue caused her to fail a drug test. She lost her coach and struggled to remain positive. She reached her peak after being in the valley for so long.

Robles was all smiles afterwards too. Her and her coach talked and talked and talked and were great interviews. It felt really good to be able to tell her story.

Monday, as all Mondays go, probably won’t be quite as good as that, but hopefully its more relaxing. I work for the website in the morning again and then will be writing a 700-word story over a diving preliminary round in the afternoon. So fun.

Miles walked today: 4.57

Total miles walked: 102.68

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