Weightlifter Among Female Athlete Majority on US Olympic Team

    For the first time ever, female athletes outnumber the male athletes on the U.S. Olympic team.

    There are eight more female Olympians than male Olympians on the U.S. team this year, the 40th anniversary of a federal law known as Title IX.

    That law has helped provide equal opportunities for female athletics and Olympian Holley Mangold says it has influenced her entire life.

    "If I wasn’t a professional weightlifter, I don’t know what I’d be doing, so I’m very privileged to have this chance and have those amazing women before me that just paved the way," said Mangold.

    She helped to lead the way herself in American football by being the first female to play an offensive line position in high school in her home state of Ohio.  She says that experience pushed her to her current sport.  

    "My coach said, 'Well, you’re pretty strong for a female,'" Mangold recalled.  "I took it as a compliment.  I’m pretty sure it was meant as an insult.  And because of that, I decided to go into powerlifting.  And after powerlifting I went into Olympic weightlifting."
     
    The rise hasn't been easy.  At about 160 kilos, Mangold is not exactly your stereotypical Olympian.

    "People will stay stuff about my weight and how crazy it is, but you know what?  It’s me.  I’ve been this size forever," said Mangold.
     
    And she has some famous shoes to follow.  Her brother, Nick Mangold, plays for the New York Jets in the National Football League.

    "I think it’s cool to say, you know, 'This is mine,'" Mangold added.  "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."

    While some weightlifting professionals say she reached the Olympics ahead of schedule, as in 2016, Holley Mangold is poised to make the extra effort this year in London.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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