Still another way to measure her is by the decibels that come out of your throat as you watch her try to lift nearly 300 pounds over her head, and hold it there. It starts down in the larynx and builds until it sounds like this: “Ghhhaaaaahhhhhhh!”
Mangold didn’t win a medal at the London Games; she finished 10th. Which made her not one pound less interesting. The 22-year-old fought through a torn wrist tendon and several tons of pressure in her Olympic debut, and proved the point she came here to make: “Athletes can come in my size,” she said.
Here’s the thing about what she did: It didn’t take just ore-like strength. It took nerve. A whole lot of nerve for a 330-pound young woman to stand on a platform under a harsh-bright spotlight, amid psycho-techno music that pulsed and then suddenly dropped into the doom-like notes of a game show suspense theme. Then she had to hoist the plate-laden barbell first to her knees, then to her chest, then above her shoulders, trembling the whole time like a building about to collapse in an earthquake.
Amid the concentrated silence, you could practically see her heartbeat in her neck. The audience’s own knee ligaments screamed in sympathy — medial collaterals fraying like hemp rope.
“It hurt a lot,” she said afterward. “I have a raging headache.”
By the end of the competition, Nick Mangold felt sure he didn’t want to get in a clean-and-jerk contest with his younger sister. He was pretty certain his disks would look like shredded tires if he tried. The New York Jets center sat in a cluster of about 15 family members and watched, fairly agape, as his sibling lifted 105 kilograms in the snatch, and then another 135 in the clean and jerk — a combined 529 pounds of weight, despite the heavy bandage on her right wrist.
“Yeah, I don’t think I would have done that,” he said. “I think I would have passed.”
Nick Mangold had been reluctant to leave the Jets’ training camp for an Olympic jaunt, but changed his mind two days ago at the urging of Coach Rex Ryan: “He told me, ‘It’s family,’ ” Mangold said.
Asked who is stronger, him or his sister, Mangold laughed. “There are conflicting reports,” he said. “Of course I’m going to say I’m stronger, but I will never actually do the lift, because I feel as though my superiors would be pretty angry if I blew out my back.”
When Holley first took up the event, “I didn’t really know what to make of it,” Nick said. But acceptance came quickly and he says, “She has the world in front of her.”
The Mangolds are used to this sort of thing from Holley. She has been a boundary-crasher since she played on the offensive line in high school and became the first girl in Ohio history to play for a state championship.