2012 Olympics: Holley Mangold, Sister of NFL Center, Making Name for Herself

Emily Bayci@emilybayciContributor IIIAugust 4, 2012

Holley Mangold is a competitive weightlifter.
Holley Mangold is a competitive weightlifter.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There was a time when it seemed like Holley Mangold was just following in her brother, Nick Mangold’s shadow. 

Nick, 28, is a center for the Jets, a first round draft pick in 2006, who played college ball at Ohio State University.

His little sister Holley was an offensive lineman at Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, where she was the first female to play for a Ohio state championship. Holley had some offers to play DIII football, but she decided to move on from the sport.

She found weightlighting in 2010 and dropped out of college to train for the Olympics.

Holley weighs roughly between 330-350 pounds and will compete as a super-heavyweight in the London Olympics, the category reserved for people who weigh more than 165 pounds.

She lifted 320 pounds in the clean-and-jerk competition to qualify for the Olympics, which is supposedly more than her brothers best lift of 307 pounds. He still stated in a Washington Post article that he can lift more than his sister.

Although the two are constantly compared, weightlifting is something that Holley can stake her own claim on.

Holley, along with Sarah Robles, another first-time super-heavyweight Olympian hope to end a 12-year medal drought for the U.S. 

“As an older brother, you love to see your siblings do great things and this is something she tried to do and was successful at it and it’s a great thing to see,” Nick told the Associated Press. “There are people who have been training their whole lives for this opportunity and she’s been doing it for two years.”

Longtime dream

Like many children, Holley had the Olympic dream since she was a young girl when she did gymnastics.

Her naturally large frame made her realize she needed to do a different sport. At 5-foot-8, and around 350 pounds, she is probably as big as a combination of two to three of the U.S. Olympic gymnasts.

"I thought I'd get it for diving or for gymnastics," Holley said in an interview with ABC. "I always wanted to be one of those girls, but my body had a different plan."

After high school, Holley attended Ursuline College, on a track and field scholarship. When she wasn't throwing shot put and discus, she was working out in the weight room.

Holley won the weightlifting junior nationals after just three months in the sport at 18. In May 2010, she was convinced by her lifting partner Drew Dillon to dedicate herself to the sport full-time.

She dropped out of college and put her triple major of philosophy, sociology and theology.

"I can always go back to school," Holley said in an interview with WDTN. "I can always get those grades, but this was my chance."

She knows weightlifting isn’t exactly a high-profile sport like her original picks of gymnastics or diving or her brothers pick of football.

To train for the games, she lived in the basement laundry room of a house with Dillon and two other men in Columbus.

"At least my clothes are always clean," she said in an interview with Cleveland.com.

It’s not just Nick and Holley who are the athletes in the family, their three siblings grew up playing a variety of sports.

The Mangold’s mother Teresa was a competitive swimmer in the late 1970’s and their father, Vern, coached Holley’s youth football teams.

Nick will not be in London with the family watching Holley, instead he’ll be at training camp.

 "It's not that he doesn't want to go," Holley said to the Associated Press. "Football is my brother's life. You wouldn't see me missing training or a big meet to watch one of his games. I know it's different because it's the Olympics, but it's a big part of their season."

Holley still has some gymnastics in her and does a good-luck cartwheel before every competition.

A Long Road

Holley felt something special from weightlifting, a sense of completeness she never found in the other sports.

"Weightlifting is so amazing. It's like a 400-pound golf swing. It's so technical," she said in the Chicago Tribune. "It looks so effortless when you do it right. When you do it wrong, it looks like it's really, really heavy.... There's this thing called weightless. When you get a good lift, the bar is literally weightless off of your body. You don't feel it get over your head again. You get that lift maybe one in a hundred. If you get that lift, you're chasing it for the rest of your life."

Holley was banned from the weight room at Ursuline College's second-floor weight room after vibrations caused by her dropping barbells on the floor shattered the windows around the school's indoor pool below.

It’s been a long road for Mangold, who lost her spot at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. to someone who was thought to have a better chance.

That’s when she moved to Columbus and the rejection fueled her drive.

"They gave my spot to someone else they thought had more potential to make the 2012 team," she said to the Chicago Tribune. "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 and work really hard."

She qualified for the team in March after training seriously for a little more than 18 months. She originally had been shooting for the 2016 Games but after she lifted 320 pounds, she realized she was ready now. She still plans to appear in more Olympics though.

"They say it takes five years to see if you'll be any good in weightlifting and 10 years to see if you'll be great," Holley said in an interview with Cleveland.com. "So I don't know if I'm good yet."

High Expectations

Holley has plenty of confidence to fill her large frame.

"Thank God I wasn't skinny, because God only knows how cocky and terrible I'd be," she said in an interview with Cleveland.com.

However, she knows her size can work against her in competitions.

"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 to the Chicago Tribune. "What that taught me is I never want to tie again."

Holley wants to be a successful athlete and a motivational speaker. She hopes her story will inspire others to follow their own dreams even if they are beyond the social norm.

Her story was featured on MTV's True Life series in an episode called: "I'm a Big Girl."

"I'm a big girl and I'm comfortable with who I am," she said in an interview with Newsday. "I hope when people see that, when they see me, it will give them the self-confidence to follow their dreams, to keep going when others say they cannot do something." 

She finds herself disturbed by people with low self confidence.

"I want to shake people and say, 'you can be confident, just go out and do something,'" Holley said to WDTN.

Holley, or any of her American teammates, are not projected to make the medal stand this year. That doesn't mean she isn't a believer, as her goal is for the bronze medal. And one day the gold.

"I don't think anyone comes to the Olympics saying I hope to get eighth. If you're going to do something, you have to go for it," she said in an interview with Newsday.

Although Holley is still often associated with Nick, she knows better than that. She is happy to make her name for herself, weight, personality, success and all.

"I think it’s cool to say, you know, 'This is mine,'" Mangold said to Voice of America.  "You know, it’s always hard following a sibling whether they’re good or bad.  It’s hard following them and, you know, I’ve always thought of Nick.  I wasn’t really in his shadow.  He was just kind of paving the way for me." 


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