OHIO – Holley Mangold is about to move out of the considerable sporting shadow cast by her big brother and make a name for herself in a bid to be crowned “Strongest Woman in the World” as an Olympic weightlifter at the London Games.
Mangold initially followed in the sizeable footsteps of her 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound (134 kg) older brother Nick Mangold, a four-time Pro Bowl center for the National Football League’s New York Jets as a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State.
Then the 5-foot-8, 330-pound (150 kg) Mangold found the sport that has punched her ticket to London.
“This is my Super Bowl of my sport,” the 22-year-old said at the recent U.S. Olympic media summit in Dallas
She had blazed a feminist trail as an offensive’ lineman’ at Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, the first girl to play a high school down from the scrimmage line in football-mad Ohio and the first to play for a state championship.
After dabbling in gymnastics, swimming, speed roller skating, discus throwing and a slew of other sports besides football, the self-described party girl found the sport for her super-heavyweight talents.
Mangold said she discovered a passion for weightlifting that she had never felt for football and an appreciation for the intricate technique necessary to thrive in the sport.
“Weightlifting is so amazing. It’s like a 400-pound golf swing. It’s so technical,” she said. “It looks so effortless when you do it right. When you do it wrong, it looks like it’s really, really heavy.”
Mangold capped a fast roller coaster ride through the ranks by lifting a combined 255 kg (562 pounds), in the snatch and clean and jerk, to claim one of two super heavyweight (75 kg/ 165 pounds and above) spots on the U.S. team and will try to end a 12-year U.S. medals drought in weightlifting.
Mangold knows what it takes. Her fortunes have fluctuated like her own weight, which has been between 300 and 390 pounds, in recent years.
She was barred from Ursuline College’s second-floor weight room after vibrations caused by her dropping barbells on the floor caused the windows around the school’s indoor pool below to shatter.
Mangold impressed U.S. officials enough to be invited to live and train in Colorado Springs but after she flamed out in a competition, chronicled by MTV Reality show “True Life” that featured her in an episode called “I’m the Big Girl,” she was not invited back for the next training session.
“They gave my spot to someone else they thought had more potential to make the 2012 team,” she said.
“I’m glad they did that because that lit a fire under my butt. I was so mad. That’s what made me go back to Columbus (Ohio) and work really hard.”
Mangold is on a mission, not just for a medal in London but also to deliver a message about being yourself.
Mangold knows her size can work against her in competition.
“Ties are determined by who weighs less. I got beat out at worlds, this girl tied me and beat me on body weight,” she said.
“What that taught me is I never want to tie again.”