With more confidence than most 22 year olds and more grace than her 340 pound frame might suggest, weightlifter Holley Mangold is making her dream come true. She'll be competing in London on August 5th in the sport of Olympic weightlifting in the superheavyweight class. Holley has been weightlifting since 2008, and prior to that she played high school football and competed in powerlifting. She comes from an athletic family; perhaps best known is her brother Nick, an All-Pro center for the New York Jets. Greatist caught up with Holley to talk about about her love of weightlifting and preparation for the 2012 Games. Why did you choose to focus on weightlifting? I knew I couldn't pursue football professionally, and powerlifting isn't in the Olympics. My entire life I've wanted to go to the Olympics. The first time I tried weightlifting, I knew I could make it to the Olympics, this was my chance. So I started training with Mark Cannella at Columbus Weightlifting, teamed up with some great training partners, and put my sights on 2012. You knew 2012 was your year? Yes, but I didn't tell anyone at first. I'd say, "Yeah, 2016 would be great," and that's what everyone else said. But when I did tell everyone 2012 was my goal, it applied exactly the pressure I needed to my training, that's when I started seeing real improvement. What do you most enjoy about your sport? I think of weightlifting as being a 400-pound golf swing. It's a beautiful combination of technique and power. Really, it's a controlled explosion. All of this sounds crazy, but the first time the bar feels weightless, it pops off your hips and all of a sudden you're standing — then you'll understand. The first time I felt it, that's when I became passionate about the sport of weightlifting. Now that you've qualified for the Olympics, what does a typical training day look like? When I'm at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs my day usually goes like this: 7 am: Wake up 7:30 am: Weigh in and go for a walk, start to warm up for my day of training 8 am: Breakfast, this is the most important meal of the day for me. I throw down eggs, sausage, bacon, all the good stuff. 10-12:30 pm: First training session of the day 12:30 pm: Lunch — protein is my focus, I'm trying to lose about 10 pounds right now 1:30 pm: Rehab and Recovery — ice baths, saunas, soft tissue massage, stretching, these things are essential with my training volume 4-6:30 pm: Second training session of the day 6:30 pm: Dinner 7:30 pm: More rehab and recovery. I'm nursing a couple of nagging injuries so I have to stay on top of them. 9 pm: Bedtime How are you mentally preparing for the Games?
Before trials, I would think about the meet constantly. Visualize myself doing the lifts, crunch numbers, think about it all the time. But I'm not doing that now, I'll wait til London to think that way. Instead I am getting things in order. It's a lot easier to think about making sure everyone has tickets and focusing on today's training session than it is to worry about the competition. I haven't even looked at the other women's stats. In fact, I'm not sure who's going from the other countries! What is your goal for the Olympics? Numbers wise, I'd like to total around 280 kilograms for both lifts (that's 616 pounds total, or around 264 pounds for the snatch and 352 pounds for the clean and jerk.) This is the weirdest meet I've ever prepared for. Usually it's about qualifying for a future competition or hitting some PRs [Personal Records], and the Olympics is about bringing home a medal. That's it. I'm going to put whatever it takes on that bar to get on the medal stand. What would you say to someone who is interested in Olympic weightlifting but isn't sure where to start? First you have to find a local gym that has all the right equipment;there are weightlifting gyms, CrossFit boxes are also great. Learn the lifts, start to hone your technique. I think immediately you'll find it super fun because it is so technical. Weightlifting is for anyone. A person who just wants to stay in shape and needs some direction, or any athlete who wants to get better at their own sport, the lifts strengthen all aspects of athleticism. And to women who are worried you have to be my size to do weightlifting: You don't! Weightlifting is broken up into weight classes, there are women competing in the 56 kilogram class (123 pounds) who are doing amazing things like lifting twice their bodyweight. Weightlifting is fun, so fun. Where is the best place to keep up with you online while you're in London? I'll post all the fun to Facebook and Twitter, and I have a weekly blog going at Breaking Muscle. What’s the one Olympic event you’re looking forward to most? Tell us in the comments below!