Holley Mangold is accustomed to making headlines. She was the only girl on her high school football team in Ohio -- maybe not that big of a surprise since she's the sister of New York Jets center Nick Mangold.
She's not a novelty anymore. She's an Olympian. Mangold will compete as a superheavyweight in weightlifting at the London Games later this month. Her coaches initially saw her as a prospect for the 2016 Olympics but her progress the past year -- she upped her lift totals by more than 70 pounds -- put her ahead of schedule.
Nick Mangold couldn't be prouder.
"As an older brother, you love to see your siblings do great things and this is something she tried to do and was successful at it and it's a great thing to see," he said. "There are people who have been training their whole lives for this opportunity and she's been doing it for two years."
Mangold is comfortable with her size (about 350 pounds), and would like to help reshape the image of female weightlifters.
"I feel like women weightlifters try to be too feminine just to show that they're still feminine," she said. "I don't do that. I try to have a nice balance. But I haven't really had any problems. People usually don't say anything to your face because they're intimidated that you can out lift them."
Her experience at Archbishop Alter High in Kettering, Ohio, had its firsts: first girl to play a down from scrimmage in Ohio and the first girl to play in a state championship game. Her brother saw the connection between weightlifting and football, which his 22-year-old sister played for 12 years to follow in his path.
"If she had said race car driving or something like that, I would've been like, `Hmmm, I don't know,"' he said. "But weightlifting, it just seemed to flow with her."
Along with Sarah Robles, another first-time Olympian who qualified as a superheavyweight, Mangold will try to end a 12-year medal drought for the U.S. In 2000 at Sydney, Americans Tara Nott and Cheryl Haworth took gold and bronze, respectively. No U.S. man or woman has reached the podium since.
Despite the urging of Jets coach Rex Ryan, Nick Mangold won't be in London with other family members to watch his little sister. He will be at training camp starting July 26 in Cortland, N.Y., preparing for the NFL season.
"It's not that he doesn't want to go," she said. "Football is my brother's life. You wouldn't see me missing training or a big meet to watch one of his games. I know it's different because it's the Olympics, but it's a big part of their season."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press