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Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold is living large and loving it

The 5-foot-9, 350-pound lifter has an oversized personality to match her body and is trying to become the first U.S. woman to win a medal in weightlifting since 2000.

May 18, 2012|By Kevin Baxter

And with less than four years of experience in Olympic-style weightlifting, Holley Mangold has reached that summit earlier than expected. The conventional wisdom says it takes five years to find out whether a weightlifter will be any good and 10 years to determine whether they'll be great.

"So I don't know if I'm good yet," says Mangold, who is training nearly 30 hours a week in an effort to find out. "I'm very excited. I feel like I'm just scratching at the surface of what I can do."

Adds Dillon: "She made it to the Olympics as a good athlete. And she has all the potential in the world to be one of the best in the sport."

To be a medal contender in London, Dillon says Mangold would need to hoist a combined 280 kilos in the two Olympic lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk. In the U.S. trials her two-lift total was 255 kilos (about 561 pounds).

"If she focuses and she gets up in that range, she's definitely a contender," insists Dillon, who says Mangold sets aside her happy-go-lucky personality during competitions, drawing instead from what she learned during all those years playing football when she was, she says, "just one of the guys."

"She still is a girl in all senses, everything. And she still has a soft side," Dillon says. "But I think she has a little bit of a tougher skin than most girls. When she's having trouble, she can kind of push it off — which you see in more male athletes — and just focus on the task at hand. I would definitely say that's a benefit for her."

It's a large challenge she'll be facing this summer. But then Mangold was clearly cut out for big things.

"I'm unique," she says with a girlish smile.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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