LONDON — Holley Mangold posed for photographs with fans on the concourse of ExCeL Centre, a splint on her right wrist having replaced the massive ice bag she wore after her Olympic weightlifting finals. She smiled, gave a thumbs-up and warmly greeted everyone, trying to ignore the injurious pain that haunted her on every lift.
"I'm fallin' apart," she said after Sunday's event, "I need a good two months of … well, I have to get surgery on my hand now."
Mangold, a U.S. hope in the Olympic women's 75kg-plus weightlifting competition, finished 10th overall with a total score of 240; her teammate, Sarah Robles, was seventh (265). Mangold was successful on only two of her six attempts in the snatch and clean and jerk, hitting a 105kg (231.5 pounds) and a 135kg (297.6 pounds), respectively.
Two days before leaving for London, Mangold, 22, tore a tendon in her right wrist, and believes she tore it again during the competition. "But I'm having surgery, so I can tear it as much as I want," she said with a smile.
Add that wrist injury to the injuries in her other wrist — a tear, a bruised bone, and "some sort of pocket of fluid" — as well as a shoulder injury and a knee injury, and Mangold was legitimately concerned she may not complete a lift at the London Olympics.
What she did know: That she would try to lift. Despite the pain. Despite the uncertainty.
Because that's what Mangolds do.
"It's difficult dealing with pain. But you want to compete. Nothing short of death keeps you from doing it," said her brother Nick Mangold, the New York Jets center who flew eight hours to London on Saturday night to watch his little sister's Olympic debut.
"But it's the athlete in us that understands there's going to be pain involved. She could have easily ducked out. But she stuck through it."
Holley Mangold had an Olympic dream as a young girl, albeit one in which she'd become the next beloved American pixie in gymnastics.
Mangold is currently listed at 5-foot-8 and 350 pounds. She had tried football as a lineman (OK, lineperson) before committing to weightlifting 3 1/2 years ago.
Nick Mangold has lifted weights all his life as a "secondary nature" to being a football star, first at Ohio State and then with the Jets.
"When she got into competitive lifting, I didn't really know what to make of it," he said.
The older brother supported the younger sister's burgeoning career, all the way through her Olympic qualification. The question was, would he have a chance to watch her compete, considering coach Rex Ryan's New York Jets camp was scheduled during the weightlifting cycle of the Summer Games?
To Nick Mangold's surprise, the team encouraged him to make the hasty trip to London, joining his family in the ExCeL stands to watch Holley vie for a medal.
"I got the blessings from my teammates, and Rex as well. Watching it on TV made me realize the importance of it. Once I got all three [of those] together, it was an easy decision," he said.