COLUMBUS - Sunday night, as I watched Holley Mangold lift her way onto the U.S. Olympic team headed to London Games this summer - competing in the super-heavyweight division, she won one of just two spots open for all weight classes combined on the U. S. women’s weightlifting team - it got me to thinking:
Has there ever been a more unique female athlete than the 22-year-old Mangold to call the Miami Valley home?
I doubt it.
At Alter High, she wasn’t just an offensive lineman on the Knights football team, she became the first girl to ever play a down from the line of scrimmage in Ohio prep football history and also the first girl ever to play in a state title game.
After high school, she earned a scholarship to Ursuline College outside Cleveland and competed in discus and the shot put.
It was while she was in college that she began weightlifting and eventually she left school to work on her new sport at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. For the past 13 months she’s been training with Mark Cannella in Columbus.
Just over a year ago she and her Columbus-based coach Mark Cannella were focused on the 2016 Games. But she has made such strides in training - lifting 35 total kilos more than this time last year, Canella said - that 2012 became a reality.
“In just over a year she has gone from dark horse to an Olympian,” Cannella said.
For most of her life she’s been known as the younger sister of Nick Mangold, the Ohio State star, who is a three-time All Pro center for the New York Jets.
“She’s always wanted to step out of the shadow of her big brother and this will let her do that,” said her dad, Vern Mangold. “As I travel around the world and talk to people who know about athletics, nobody knows about American football outside of the main countries,” Vern said, “But they know weightlifting all over the world.
“Holley was a rock star in Colombia. She had Russian guys following her all around Romania. And if you do well in the Olympics, well, that (acclaim) is international.”
Growing up - and she has now grown to 5-foot-8 and 374 pounds — Holley said she dreamed of going to the Olympics, but not as a weightlifter.
“I always wanted to be an Olympic athlete, but I always thought I’d get it for diving or gymnastics. I always wanted to be one of those girls, but my body just didn’t work out for that so I had to go to a different sport.”
And it looks as if she has really found one.
Competing as a super heavyweight Sunday, she won the clean and jerk competition with a lift of 145 kilos (319 pounds) and was second in the two-hand snatch with a 110-kilo hoist (242 pound) that was only topped by Sarah Robles of Mesa, Arizona, who lifted 114 kilos. Robles finished first overall with 258 kilo total for both lifts and Mangold was second at 255.
Many of the other competitors were at smaller weights, but the Olympic berths were given to those (Robles and Mangold) whose scores were closest to the last five Olympic bronze medal totals in their respective divisions
Other the years the Miami Valley has other female Olympians.
LaVonna Martin Floreal of Trotwood Madison High competed in both the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Games, winning silver in the 100 meter hurdles at the latter. She also won gold at the Pan Am Games in Indianapolis in 1987 and silver at the world championships in Toronto in 1993.
Tonja Buford Bailey from Meadowdale competed in the 1992 Games and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in the 400 hurdlers. She also won silver at the 1995 world championships in Gothenburg. Today she’s the women’s track coach at the University of Illinois.
Kristin King, who is from Piqua and was an ice hockey star at Dartmouth, won a bronze medal at the 2006 Torino (Italy) Games as part of the U.S. women’s hockey team.
And Lucinda (Williams) Adams - was who was raised in Georgia, was one of the famed Tenneesse State Tigerbelles and then settled here in Dayton, where she was a longtime educator - won Olympic gold in Rome in 1960 as part of the 400-meter relay team. She also won gold in the 100 and 200 meters at the 1959 Pan Am Games in Chicago.
We’ve also had women star in the WNBA.
Two of the most notable have been Tamika Williams Raymond and Alison Bales.
Williams was named “Miss Ohio Basketball” two years in a row while playing at Chaminade Julienne and also was named the WBCA national high school player of the year.
She won two national titles playing for UConn and then played in the WNBA from 2002 to 2008 with Minnesota and Connecticut. She’s now as assistant coach at the University of Kansas.
Alison Bales, the 6-foot-7 star out of Beavercreek High, was a standout at Duke on the basketball court and in the classroom - she graduated with a double major in cultural anthropology and biology - and she’s still playing professional hoops. She started her WNBA career with Indiana and now plays for Atlanta. She’s also played overseas in Moscow, Turkey and, this offseason, in France.
Two of the Miami Valley’s most versatile athletes are the University of Dayton’s two-sport star Ann Meyers and Olympic heptathlete Hyleas Fountain.
Meyers was a volleyball All American, but she’s best known for her basketball. She led the Flyers to the AIAW national championship in 1980 and finished her career as UD’s all-time leading scorer - for both men and women - with 2,672 points.
Fountain grew up in Pennsylvania and starred first at Barton C.C. and then at the University of Georgia,, where she was the NCAA heptathlon champion, won the indoor pentathlon crown and twice took the national long jump title. She moved to Kettering just before she took the silver medal in the hepthalon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Mangold, though, has made her mark in three different sports.
And because she is so new to weightlifting, Cannella said: “We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with her. She’s going to get better and better.”
Already she may well be the Miami Valley’s most unique athlete ever.Tweet