When you think of Olympic power lifting, you normally associate it with big, bulky guys who look like they can crush you with a flick of a finger. What is lost in the shuffle is that the women have their own power-lifters and if they are anything like Holly Mangold — sister of New York Jets Pro Bowl lineman Nick Manfold — then they just might be able to crush you just as easily.
Holly Mangold, weighing in at a robust 340 lbs, is one of the United States representatives in the Olympic Women's Super-heavyweight lifting competition. Holly earned her spot back in early March when she won the clean-and-jerk competition by lifting 319 pounds, and finished second in the two-hand snatch event with a 242-pound lift.
This girl is big, strong, and she's proud of who she is. She hopes that girls can see her accomplishments and be inspired by watching her live out her dream. Unlike the famous Charles Barkley ad where he stated that he is not a role model, Holly wants to be one and believes that her future lies in helping other people be happy and comfortable with who they are, no matter their size or race.
"I would like to say I hope you find inspiration from my story. I hope you find inspiration to do something out of the norm — and it's not just for women,” Holly said. "It's for men, women, children, old people, you know, everyone. The reason is I want people to wake up every day and be happy with what they're doing."
The 5-foot-8 Mangold has always been big. She was up to 390 pounds at one point before losing 100 of it in four months and then putting half of it back on, but she has never been down. She's a big girl and she is content in who she is. Her infectious personality sets her apart from many of the athletes representing the United States, and is what makes her so noticeable.
That, and an athletic gift that is very rare. Mangold took up competitive lifting less than five years ago, a sport that most people begin at the age of ten if they want to be serious at it, and yet is already an Olympian.
"It wasn't until Holley that I really understood the athlete gene," Training partner Drew Dillon said. "A person has it or they don't. You can tell an athlete to move their body a certain way and they can go a lot faster to do that than someone that doesn't have that, and Holley really defines that,"
Holly does concede that her current size isn't exactly the healthiest she can be, but she refuses to be concerned about what she weighs because it's all about being powerful enough for lifting, anyway.
"It's not really about health. After I retire, I'll definitely try to get healthier just because I'd like to live longer," Mangold said. "And it's not a body-image thing. I'll always be huge. I'll never be a tiny little stick figure. But at least I could be healthy. You can be a larger woman and still be healthy."
Before making the team, Holly wasn't projected to be a contender until perhaps the 2016 games, but with her determination and drive, she has made her way to the Olympics now. And though she may not medal, her story is still an inspirational one to men and women across the world.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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