Ohio Olympian longshot for medal, sure bet as role model

Aug 2, 2012

Among the US Olympic athletes is an Ohioan most experts had expected to be a major competitor in the '2016' games - but who shocked the weightlifting community by lifting 319 pounds to qualify for London - and who has an outside chance at bringing home another Buckeye medal.... From member station WCPN, Rick Jackson reports that Holley Mangold is already somewhat known here... for her past feats, her outgoing persona - and for becoming the most unlikely of role models.    

When she enters a room - Holley Mangold commands attention.  At 5-foot-8 inches and 350-pounds, she is powerful, boisterous, yet fluid; and every bit an elite athlete.  22 years old and a student at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, the Dayton area native has fulfilled a childhood dream by reaching the games…

Despite the surprise of being an American Olympic weightlifter, she’s not unaccustomed to attention - as Mangold knows what it’s like to be spotlighted.  From the time she decided to play high school football - yes, football, where she dominated teenage boys her own size and is still the only girl to have ever reached a state title game - she has been something of a media darling.

Now in London - Mangold says some of the other athletes have found they can turn to her, for advice on handling the sudden adoration.

HM:  I try to help people when I can because of the fact that - it’s not like I’m a veteran Olympian, this is my first time too - but I have been in the news since I was 16. And dealing with stuff with my brother and how well known he is, and all of that.  We talk about just not listening to what people say.

She referenced her brother, Nick - the former Ohio State star and current center for the New York Jets of the NFL. She says she learned admits from him - about playing while hurt.  That’s exactly what she’s doing in London, competing with two torn meniscus and a torn labrum in her shoulder…

HM:  I’m pretty competitive. Almost to like a creepy-freaky way. Sometimes my friend Heather and also my training partner; when we’re arguing she’ll just go ‘you win, you’re right’, just to make me be quiet, and then when I hear that I start laughing and say all right - I’m being ridiculous… like …I don’t have to argue about everything - I don’t have to be right… I am very competitive.

She believes she’s got a shot at a medal in London this weekend.  Mangold has added nearly 90 pounds to her lifting totals in the past year - virtually an unheard of improvement, and she thinks hoisting just a bit more weight in London could help her defeat all but two women who are the world’s best....

HM:  I’m a very realistic person. Bronze I feel like is within my reach and gold and silver aren’t. It’s like the difference between adding 15 kilos on my total, to get Bronze, and then adding like 50 kilos on my total, to get a Gold. You know, I have to be realistic in saying Bronze is a possibility.

She’d love to bring home a medal to Columbus Weightlifting, the training gym where she chose to stay rather than to leave for the Olympic training facility out west; to Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering; to Ursuline College.... but also to the many young girls in America who battle image problems; because they ‘aren’t’ shaped like the Olympic swimmers, or gymnasts…

HM:  It’s more important about whether you’re big small, average, whatever you are - so long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then you’re a happy person. I’m definitely all about pushing people to do something that they’re passionate about, and if you have passion in it, you can find a way to live off of it.

Medal or not this weekend, she plans to stay in competition - and to BE in Rio De Janiero in four years.... as America’s best.

HM:  It means so much to be a part of such a great country that does come together. And no matter what state I’m in, or where I’m going, people will stop me and say ‘Hey, good luck out there, Hey, bring one home’ - and it’s such a sense of camaraderie, and such a sense of patriotism to see our country come together - it does put a little pressure on me, but it’s a good kind of pressure - the pressure where you want to do well.

Notes:RICK: ‘Think that’s worth a couple of Kilos?”

HM: I think so…

Holley Mangold’s entire Olympic experience takes place on Sunday.
She lifts in the Women’s 75kg+ category August 5, at 10:30 a.m.