US lifter has own take on weighty issue

Elodie Clouvel, modern pentathlete of France.
Elodie Clouvel, modern pentathlete of France.
Jack Green, hurdler of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
Jack Green, hurdler of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
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Stephanie Rice, swimmer of Austraila.
Roger Federer, tennis player of Switzerland.
Roger Federer, tennis player of Switzerland.
Volleyball player Kim Glass of the US.
Volleyball player Kim Glass of the US.
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Darryl Fitzgerald, kayaker from New Zealand.
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Football player Hope Solo of the US.
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Hugo Parisi, diver of Brazil
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Catalina Ponor, gymnast of Romania.
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Teddy Riner, judoka of France.
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Sandra Raluca Izbasa, gymnast of Romania.
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Ryk Neethling, swimmer of South Africa.
Leryn Franco, an athlete who specialises in the javelin throw, of Paraguay.
Leryn Franco, an athlete who specialises in the javelin throw, of Paraguay.
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David Boudia, diver of the US.
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Sarah Walker, BMX cyclist of New Zealand.
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Danell Levya, gymnast of the US.
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Allyson Felix, sprinter of the US.
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Clemente Russo, boxer of Italy.
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Maria Sharapova, tennis player of Russia.
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Ryan Nelsen, football player of New Zealand.

As body image becomes a talking point at the London Olympics, Team USA is celebrating an unlikely media darling in Holley Mangold, a strapping female weightlifter and former high school linebacker who is as confident as she is colossal.

The 22-year-old from Ohio is quickly becoming a cult figure for the Americans at the Games, not just because of her whopping 173cm, 160kg physique that makes her one of the biggest athletes of either sex among the more than 10,000 in London.

Even towering basketballers like Liz Cambage (203cm, 98kg) would hit a brick wall if they tried to push her around in the paint. It's no surprise Mangold spent much of her time at Archbishop Alter High School demolishing the boys in the offensive line, much like her brother Nick, a centre for the NFL's New York Jets.

Mangold is being hailed as weightlifting's "rock star". She's loud and proud of her impressive poundage and has been thrust into a role as an advocate for positive affirmation for the more generously proportioned woman.

"If you start thinking you're awesome, other people will start thinking you're awesome too," Mangold told ESPN.

"I hope when people see that, when they see me, it will give them the self-confidence to follow their dreams, to keep going when others say they cannot do something."

But that doesn't mean Mangold is recommending her size becomes something other female athletes should aspire to replicate.

"I shouldn't be the average. I'm huge. I'm a big person with a big personality."

Mangold understands the natural inquisitiveness about her intimidating frame and has admitted to a phobia of plastic chairs. They have let her down badly in the past.

"I get a lot of Creepy McCreepersons interested in me because I'm so big it's not normal, it's like a fetish," she told The New York Times Magazine. "And I don't like to sit outside. Not because I don't like to be outside, but usually there are plastic chairs. Once you break a couple plastic chairs, you're afraid of them all."

Mangold only began lifting as an 18-year-old and had aimed to be an Olympian by 2016. Instead, she snatched 110kg and clean-and-jerked 145kg in the US selection trials, earning her the second berth on Team USA alongside Sarah Robles.

She is hoping to continue her dream ride all the way to the podium in London, although she isn't one of the pre-event favourites. One thing that isn't on the to-do list is to join the army of athletes getting inked up with Olympic tattoos.

"Tattoos on fat girls look really nasty," Mangold told the NYT. "You really don't want me to get the rings tramp-stamped on my butt."

-Fairfax Australia

HOLLEY MANGOLD: "If you start thinking you're awesome, other people will start thinking you're awesome too."
HOLLEY MANGOLD: "If you start thinking you're awesome, other people will start thinking you're awesome too."
A HEAVY WEIGHT: Holley Mangold successfully snatches 110 kilograms during the US Olympic Team Trials for women's weightlifting.
A HEAVY WEIGHT: Holley Mangold successfully snatches 110 kilograms during the US Olympic Team Trials for women's weightlifting.