Weightlifters to represent U.S., ASU at Worlds

Weightlifting may not get much fanfare, and it may rarely get time on TV, but this month it is taking two ASU students across the world, not only to represent their school, but their country as well.

ASU students Alex Lee and Sarah Robles will represent the United States at the World Weightlifting Championships in Antalya, Turkey from Friday through Sept. 26.

Lee, 21, and Robles, 22, are coached by ASU alumnus Joe Micela, who was an assistant coach at the 2009 World Championships and is the team leader for the 2010 U.S. team.

Micela, who has been coaching Lee for five years and Robles for three, takes pride in coaching students from his alma mater.

“I think its real special as an alum to coach ASU athletes,” Micela said. “It’s really special for me to bring back those medals to Arizona State.”

Robles, a junior at ASU, finished 11th at last year’s World Weightlifting Championships. She has been involved in competitive weightlifting since 2004 and is currently the No. 1 overall ranked woman in the country. She is also a favorite to make the 2010 U.S Olympic Weightlifting Team, with hopes to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

As a member of the 2008 ASU track and field team, Robles competed in shot put, weight throw and discus throw, but later shifted her focus to weightlifting.

She has won two Senior National Championships and is expecting to improve her international rank at the World Championships. In May, Robles won a silver medal at the 2010 Pan American Weightlifting Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Robles has competed in various competitions throughout her weightlifting career and has learned how quickly things can change.

“Anything can happen,” Robles said. “I’ve just learned that I need to expect anything.”

Lee was a gold medalist at the 2010 World University Weightlifting Championships in Taiwan and is one of eight U.S. men who will be competing in Turkey to win qualification spots for U.S. weightlifters to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London. He is the top-ranked U.S. men’s weightlifter in the under 152-pound class.

Micela has been coaching Lee since 2005 and has been impressed with the athlete’s continual progress.

“It’s been a culmination of time and hard work,” Micela said. “He’s continually gotten better and better to reach the pinnacle of two different weight classes.”

Lee currently holds the national collegiate record of 350 pounds in the clean and jerk for the 69-kilogram bodyweight class. This record is just a few pounds under the American record.

“I have some personal goals that I’d like to meet,” Lee said. “[I want to] break the American record in the clean and jerk.”

Weightlifting is a club sport at ASU, so it does not garner the coverage and attention that Division I sports do. This does not mean, however, that the athletes do not train or work as hard before they compete.

Robles and Lee are constantly at the gym training. They train six days a week, often multiple times per day. It may not be a collegiate sport, but Lee said this kind of weightlifting is not something the average gym rat can go out and do.

“It’s not something you can do on your own at a Bally’s fitness,” Lee said. “It takes a lot of supervision and a lot of coaching.”

Although he is pleased with the success his athletes have had so far, Micela acknowledges there is still work to do for Robles and Lee.

“We’re not done yet,” Micela said. “We still have some goals.”

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu

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