2011 was far from a banner year for Arizona sports. While the failures and disappointments from across the professional and collegiate level outweighed the positive, yet there were still several outstanding moments. From the unexpected division title for the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Elite Eight run by Arizona to the national title by Arizona State softball team, Arizona residents were treated to some great times.
Yet there was one moment that outshined them all, one that transcended sports and became one of the rare moments that exemplified the best qualities of the human will.
Through his first three seasons, ASU wrestler Anthony Robles had already put together a great career in Tempe. By his second year, he was named an All-American and won the Pac-10 title at the 125-pound weight class. He then repeated as conference champion the next season and finished seventh overall in the NCAA as a junior.
Those accomplishments alone were more than enough to solidify Robles as one of the best wrestlers in Arizona State's prestigious wrestling history. But there was one thing that made Robles' story more than just that of a great athlete.
Robles only had one leg.
Born without his right leg, Robles had already lived a life in which he turned that disadvantage into an advantage through tremendous determination and a strong will.
Robles continually strengthened his upper body, honed his technique and outworked his opponents. He went far beyond the "never give up cliche", which set him apart from all competitors. After two conference titles, he was already an amazingly inspirational story.
But he was far from done.
In his final season, Robles dominated one opponent after another, posting an undefeated record. He finished off a three-peat as conference championship, and now set his sights on the elusive national championship.
He advanced through the NCAA tournament to face the defending 125-pound champion, Iowa's Matt McDonough. Robles made quick work of the champion, defeating McDonough 7-1 and capping his incredible story with a national championship, as well as being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. The Disney movie now had its ending.
As his arm was raised in victory, Robles stood not just as a champion, not just as a Sun Devil, but as a real personification of what a person can accomplish and what obstacles they can overcome if they have the will and the want.
SB Nation Arizona is proud to salute Anthony Robles for his inspirational triumph.