Team USA’s Sarah Robles took seventh in women’s weightlifting at the Olympic Games Sunday, and her teammate Holley Mangold took 10th despite a painful injury to her hand.
Robles, 24, lifted a total of 265 kg, including a snatch of 120 and a clean-and-jerk of 145 kg, to take 7th in the +75 kg weight division. “The clean and jerk could have been better,” said Robles, “but I broke three personal records today and to do that in my first Olympics is very pleasing.”
Mangold, 22, whose famous New York Jets brother, Nick Mangold, left training camp to watch her performance first-hand at London’s ExCeL Center, lifted a total of 240 kg, including a snatch of 105 kg and a clean-and-jerk of 135 kg, to end 10th in the +75 kg division. That was far shy of what she wanted but a painful wrist injury held her back from higher numbers.
These totals were well below the weights being fired back-and-forth in a record-busting duel between China’s Lulu Zhou, who eventually won the gold with a new world record total of 333 kg, and Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina who claimed the silver medal with 332 kg.
No matter. This wasn’t just about the best lifts of the day. Mangold was just glad to be there. Less than three weeks ago, she tore tendons in her right hand emitting a “crunching” sound that she assumed was from a break. “I bawled,” she said.
The pain was so intense this afternoon that she couldn’t hear the cheering from the crowds. After the contest, Mangold fielded questions from reporters while her hand was wrapped with a bag of ice.
Now she faces surgery. Despite the pain, she said, “I wouldn’t drop out of the Olympics. You can fight through pain and at least put up a total,” Mangold said.
“I don’t think I would have been able to hit what I did had I not had the crowd there,” Mangold said. She dropped her first snatch attempt at 105 kg, staggering left and forward, then dropping the bar behind her. She staggered again on the second attempt but managed to steady the same weight. Clearly happy with the outcome, she pointed fingers skyward and smiled.
In the crowd cheering was her famous NFL brother, who took a very short break, he said, from training camp to watch his sister. How did she discover that he’d be there? “I found out through Twitter,” Mangold said. “He never picks up the phone.” And he knew that she was in pain. He was heading out tomorrow morning early to return to training camp.
“You know it’s difficult,” he said of her injury, “but at the same time I think it’s the athlete in us that understands that there’s going to be pain involved.”
For Robles, too, victory didn’t necessarily involve a medal. “I told myself that if I made that 120 snatch, that I would feel elite to myself. That I’d feel like I am competitive with those other girls who have been beating me for the last few years.” She got what she wanted.
The crowd, Robles said, was a big help. “I came all this way and I really appreciate all this support, and the Olympic Games are so awesome because everybody just loves each other and just wants the best out of each other.”
“I almost relate the Olympic Games to your wedding day,” Robles said. “You keep the outfit for the Opening Ceremony in the back of your closet, just like your wedding dress,” she said. “So, right now, this is like the pinnacle of my life.”
Speaking of clothes, Robles has been working with a Santa Cruz designer to develop a line that will work better for different body types, and maybe her competition in the Olympics will have an impact on the fashion industry. Robles weighs 124 kg and Mangold 157 kg.
Looking at all the athletes around the venues, “there are so many different body types, such a great range,” Robles said, “and everybody deserves to look good, and feel good and perform well. … I want to make sure that everybody has that opportunity.”
Of the Olympic experience, Robles said, “I’ve really enjoyed. I enjoy being in the spot light. I enjoy expressing my talents and I enjoy being around people, and lifting weights. I enjoy being strong. I like it.”