Weightlifting was first included as a field event in the 1896 Olympic Games at Athens; however, the sport was excluded from the 1904, 1908 and 1912 Olympics. Weightlifting returned at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp as its own event and has had a presence in all Olympic Games since.
Notable American athletes in Olympic weightlifting include Joe Di Pietro, who took home gold at the London 1948 Games in the bantamweight class. Pietro was less than 5-feet tall, with arms that barely extended enough to lift the bar over his head. Tommy Kono, a Japanese American, developed into a world-class weightlifter during his internment at a relocation camp in California during World War II. Kono claimed his first gold medal at the 1952 Games in Helsinki and went on to win two additional medals. John Davis was one of the most dominant athletes of his generation. Davis compiled a 15-year winning streak that included gold medals at the London 1948 Olympic Games and the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games.
Weightlifting was a sport reserved for men only until the Sydney 2000 Games, when women’s weightlifting events were introduced. Sixteen years later, at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, Sarah Robles won a bronze medal, becoming the first American Olympic women’s weightlifting medalist.