Mangold fights injury to compete for her country

Holley Mangold is leaving London with a special sense of pride. The 5’8″ and 350-pound weightlifter from Columbus, Ohio proved many doubters wrong when she competed in the 75+kg division at the 2012 Olympics. Although she finished 10th of 14 competitors, Mangold said she isn’t upset about her finish.

“I am really happy and proud I was able to pull it together,” she said.

Mangold had to fight through a torn tendon and intense pain in her wrist to compete for her country. She had re-injured the wrist two days before her competition, but decided to fight through pain. She lifted 105 kilos in the snatch and 135 in the clean-and-jerk. She was also one of only two U.S. women to compete at the London Olympics in Weightlifting.

Mangold was one of two U.S. women to compete in the London Olympics in Weightlifting.

Holley has always been involved in a sport. Sometimes even multiple sports at once. At the age of 5, she was the speed rollerskating champion of Ohio.

“I started sports because my parents put (my siblings and myself) into them,” said Mangold. “I think my mom threw me into swimming as soon as I could float.”

Mangold even played football for 12 years, including playing in a Ohio High School State Championship Game. Her brother Nick is an offensive lineman for the New York Jets in the NFL, and Holley credits him as the reason she became interested in football. Although she didn’t necessarily pick the most popular sports among teenage girls, she said her family stood behind her every step of the way.

“My family was super supportive in both football and weightlifting,” she said. “It was great growing up in a sports oriented family. It meant I always had something to do and games to play.”

Her family also fostered some friendly competition among siblings.

“There was a lot of competition, not only in the sports we played, but in everyday activities,” said Mangold. “I believe that helped us always strive to be the best we could be.”

The Holley Mangold story doesn’t end in any athletic arena, though. Mangold had three majors during her time at Ursuline College – theology, sociology and philosophy – as well as a 3.8 grade point average. She had to learn to balance a heavy school load as well as the sports she loved.

“I fell in love with school,” says Mangold. “I wanted to learn as much as I could about the subjects that I was interested in. I became really good at school for the first time in my life. The more I did, the easier it became to balance.”

The 22-year old’s story of how she got into weightlifting only goes back a few years. When she was 18, she decided to change to weightlifting after finding her coach, Mark Cannella.

When looking back on her experience of competing at the Olympics and representing her country, Mangold is at a rare loss for words.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Mangold. “It is indescribable how proud and honored I felt.”

Holley plans to continue her training and compete in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in four years at the next Olympic Games.

Thanks for the memories

As I sit here in my flat at the University of Surrey, I’m struggling to wrap my head around the fact that today is really August 13.

For the past several months all I could think about was London: what I was going to pack, where I wanted to visit, and what types of stories I was hoping to pursue. Now, though, it’s over and in just two hours I’ll be turning in my key, hopping on a plane and flying out of the UK for what could very well be the last time.

Scott Hutchinson and Chris Longo take in track and field action at the Olympic Stadium.

Fortunately, I’ll have some incredible memories to take back with me.

We had our ups and downs out here in London, sure, but it’s the ups that I’m always going to remember:

Interviewing NBA superstars. “USA” chants at Olympic Stadium. Wetherspoon’s. Turning 15 strangers into 15 friends.

I could sit here all day and list the issues we encountered, the plans that could have run smoother and the mistakes we made along the way, but when I’m 90 years old reflecting on this trip, those things won’t even cross my mind.

Instead, I’ll be thinking about Trafalgar Square at the opening ceremonies, the late night train rides back to Guildford, and the awesome people I was lucky enough to enjoy this amazing experience with.

Thanks for the memories, everyone.

Gabby Douglas hopes her gold medal inspires others

Sixteen year old Gabrielle Douglas earned the gold medal at the women’s gymnastics individual finals Aug. 2.

At a press conference on Thursday, she talked about being the first African American to win gold individually in women’s gymnastics.

“This quote you see ‘inspire a generation’ so, you know, I can check that off my bucket list,” she said.

Although she has already made history in her first Olympics, she looks up to the other athletes who have been around for many games.

“The swimmers are like, ‘OK when you’re, you know, done with your competition you guys can come over and sit with us,’ and we’re just like in awe,” she said.

All in all, it’s not about the fame for her but about being a role model for others and keeping her fans happy.

“I love the crowd; it definitely motivates me to do better greater things,” she said. “I’m going to put on a great show for them.”

Wrestler stays cool calm and collected before the big day

LONDON – Coleman Scott started wrestling when he was six years old, hoping to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

“I watched the Olympics when I was 10, at that point I knew that was the ultimate goal in wrestling for me,” he said. Scott’s grandfather, a former wrestler, showed Scott that wrestling could be in his future.

Coleman Scott warming up at practice on Tuesday, Aug 7.

Even though being an athlete was his goal, the Waynesburg, Penn. resident now holds other titles.

Scott is a husband and fairly recently, a father. Scott met his wife Jessica when they were both in college at Oklahoma State. They now have a one-year-old daughter, Leighton.

“Jessica didn’t know a thing about wrestling before she met me,” he said.

Being an athlete, husband and father can be hard work, but not in Scott’s eyes.

“It’s an awesome experience,” he said. “They keep me humble and motivated.”

Scott was one of three wrestlers competing for the freestyle 60kg spot on the U.S Olympic team. He won the 60kg weight class at the 2012 Olympic team trials on June 7, beating Shawn Bunch in a best two-out-of-three series to clinch a berth to the London games. He won the first, but dropped the second match and had to rally in the third to win by five points.

“I envisioned winning by five points before the match,” he said. “It was mind blowing.”

Scott’s next crucial competition will take place on Saturday, Aug. 11. The action will start at 1 p.m. London time. He is preparing mentally and physically for one of the biggest days in his career.

Scott said he wants to remain constant and relaxed while in London. He knows there is no reason to get frustrated or nervous.

“I want to stay calm and keep my routine,” he said. “I listen to my coach and just show up to practice, they tell me what to do.”

The Oklahoma State alum realized that the hardest part of training was managing your weight. However, after 20 years of competing, that is no longer an issue for Scott.

“Now there is no struggle for me to gain or loose weight,” he said. “I do it right, I maximize my performance by keeping everything in line.”

Coleman Scott practices with warm up partner

In fact, Scott says the lessons he’s learned in wrestling have already helped him off the mat.

“These experiences have prepared me so well for life,” he said. “Cutting weight and the grind of the sport made me a better person. When I do get out in the real world, I know I will be ready because of wrestling,”

The smaller the athlete, the bigger the story

I was sitting there in the waiting area nearly shaking. Before we entered the gym all I could think about was: What am I going to ask them? Did I iron my shirt enough? Did I forget to put deodorant on this morning? What these guys are actually cool and I get to talk with them one-on-one? How am I going to keep my composure? I was about to get some of the biggest interviews of my life, ones that some journalists still dream of.

I was as excited and nervous as I think I’ve ever been in my life, sweaty palms and all. I had gotten no sleep the previous night because I had stayed up researching every player on the USA men’s basketball team down to their shoe sizes and thinking about the three trains that I had to catch to the training facility at the University of East London all by myself. I am proud to say that I navigated London quite well and arrived there ahead of time.

To my surprise when we walked into the gym after an hour restlessly waiting and saw stars like Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant less than 10 feet away from me all my stress melted away and my journalist mode kicked in.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers discusses the teams upcoming matchup against Argentina during Sunday’s practice at the University of East London. Photo Credit: Holly Moody

I walked right up to Kobe Bryant snapped a couple pictures and move towards Carmelo Anthony who was a very nice guy.

But then we went to LeBron who kind of shrugged my peer off when she went to ask him a question. His exact words were “Oh I’m done sweetheart,” in a condescending tone. Rude, right? A few of the players were very short with their answers, and Anthony Davis gave me nothing newsworthy when I spoke to him. It was like talking to a wall almost except I got one or two word answers.

I started to feel like a bother. Believe me, I get it. Reporters are in your face everyday ,you all live in huge mansions with six-car garages and women flock to you like geese.  You have better things to do than talk to a 20-year-old reporter and you have a lot to be arrogant about, but be a little humble. That gold medal is not guaranteed just yet.

The interesting thing is before we went into that practice I got to interview silver medalist archer Jacob Wukie of Fremont, Ohio. He was more than willing to talk, didn’t come off cocky at all and was a bit long winded, which he apologized for but as journalists we love it when our sources actually want to talk. I had a better time talking to him than I did with some of these big shot NBA players, and I didn’t even have to fight for a spot to stick my recorder in his face or get a question in like I did in that practice.

Don’t get it twisted. It was still the opportunity of a lifetime to get to be in the presence of the dream team but in those few moments I realized that it’s the athletes that don’t get as much shine that I want to talk to and make for the best stories.

Olivia Arbogast and Holly Moody interview silver medalist archer, Jacob Wukie of Massillon, Ohio on Sunday.

We did a preview of their matchup against Argentina, which they won, just as every other reporter probably did when they got back to their newsroom. But our Q&A with Wukie is something that other publications won’t have. A lot of publications seem to be concerned interviewing the major athletes not the ones that are new to the Olympics, especially archers.

The experience taught me a little something about what type of reporter I want to be. Jacob Wukie might not have been the worlds most renowned athlete but he had a big story to tell about his journey to the Olympics and all of the work and dedication that he put into becoming a silver medalist archer.I want to report on the athletes that are not in the spotlight and that don’t take one bit of an opportunity like this for granted because they will be the ones to give you a good story.Getting to meet the dream team was nice but meeting Wukie was far more rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As BMX competition nears, a former gymnast takes to the dirt

London, UK — Four years ago, Alise Post watched one of her gymnastic heroes, 16-year-old Shawn Johnson, become the darling of the Beijing Olympics. At the time, Post was considered one of the top female BMX riders in the U.S., but wasn’t allowed to qualify for the Olympics because the cycling age restriction is 19.

In London, Post, now 21-years-old, is one of the main attractions for the female BMX competition. Originally a gymnast, the St.Cloud, Minnesota native decided to trade mats for dirt after it was announced that BMX would become an Olympic sport, starting with the 2008 games. “When I was a little girl I saw gymnastics and the Olympics on TV all the time and I wanted to be able to do that,” said Post. “I got to the point where it was either go towards the college division one sports thing or go for an Olympic deal.”

The second ranked rider in the 2012 UCI Supercross World Cup standings will be a leader for the US women after her close friend and top Olympic qualifier Arielle Martin suffered near-fatal lacerations after a crash on a test run just days before the team departed for London.

Top female BMX rider Alise Post answers questions at the London Media Centre on Saturday (Photo by Olivia Arbogast)

“The U.S has such depth thankfully that we are not replacing Arielle, but we have somebody that can step up into the plate,” said Post.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that happen to Arielle, but at the same time it’s an individual sport and we are all moving forward.”

Post can relate to the grief of being a top BMX competitor and not getting the chance to compete. After missing out on the 2008 Olympics, she responded by winning back-to-back USA Cycling National Championships in 2011 and 2012. Despite her inexperience on the Olympic stage, Post remains confident.

“As much as we are inexperienced in the Olympic games, we’ve achieved success on a high level,” said Post.

After graduating high school, Post left her small-knit St. Cloud community in pursuit of clearer BMX skies, a tough decision that has ultimately paid off.

“I think that it was hard growing up because it snows half the year in Minnesota, and we had one indoor track that we could ride at in the winter, and it was an hour and a half away from my house,” said Post. “I basically focused on gymnastics all winter then BMX in the summer/spring/fall season.”

She began training year round in Chula Vista, Calif. with US Cycling where the current group of Olympic BMX riders – two women and three men – all first-time Olympians, have been given a chance to showcase their sport on the world’s biggest stage.

“We have programs to go into and we get to compete on a world stage multiple times throughout the year so it’s definitely a quicker learning curve, coming up in the Olympic era of our sport,” said Connor Fields, one of the three men competing for Team USA in BMX.

Days away from her first competition, Post’s Olympic dream come will come true, just not the way the young girl back in St. Cloud imagined.

“I still miss gymnastics everyday,” said Post. “But not many people can say they’ve been in the Olympics so it’s a pretty cool honor to be here now.”

Going for gold

Part of the Scripps London team explored the Main Press Centre on Saturday, where they attended press conferences with the USA BMX team as well as Olympic gold medalists Jamie Gray, Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin.

US women’s basketball goes from competitors to teammates

Photo By Jillian Fellows
Candace Parker from the Los Angeles Sparks and center for Team USA

The Summer Olympics do not only seem to bring fans and supporters closer together but athletes as well. The United States women’s basketball team has been growing closer as a team during these games as well.

“When we are on the same team, it’s about the team,” said Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx. “I think everybody here has that mindset of whoevers on my team that is who’s on my team and if you’re not on my team then I’m trying to beat you.”

All of the members on the team have come from professional WNBA teams where they are normally competitors. It has taken practice for them to learn to work together.

“I think every game is helping us get more and more chemistry,” said Candace Parker, center from the Los Angeles Sparks. “Every day we are improving our skill and our abilities, and I think we can collectively bring them together and gain some sort of chemistry.”

Other teams in the Olympic league have been able to practice together since the beginning of the summer while Team USA has had only about two months. The WNBA’s Olympic hiatus didn’t start until July 14.

“This group is really good at turning it on and off as far as knowing when its time to come together then go our separate ways when we’re back on our own teams” said Maya Moore, a forward on the Minnesota Lynx. “I guarantee you that everyone enjoys being teammates for this short period of time.”

Each player is professional in the job they do of playing basketball, players on the team are noticing that it is a hard situation for them to move out of their WNBA style of playing with their own teams to the style of the Olympic team.

Guard Lindsey Whalen from the Minnesota Lynx said everyone’s a professional and has been handling the difficult transition from pros to the Olympics well.

“It comes with time,” said Whalen. “I think that is something we’ve rather done a pretty good job of, just making sure that we are working together and taking the time we have each morning [that] we try to make the most of that time. As long as we are doing that I think we are on the right track.”

Parker agreed with her teammate, but because this isn’t her first Olympics, she sees it in a different light.

“I think it is tough to be competitors one night and then teammates the next night,” said Parker. “We have done it for so long with USA basketball, but we were all picked for this team for a reason and it’s about continuing to improve and do what you do the best to make the team better.”

Two brothers and a sister to compete for Team USA Taekwondo

As the Olympics began, athletes, teams and fans of Team USA united as one family. For the USA Taekwondo team, however, their family goes much deeper. Blood deep.

USA competitors Steven Lopez, Diana Lopez, Coach Jean Lopez, and alternate Mark Lopez share more than just a last name. They are a Taekwondo family. They have all reached the highest level of athletic competition, the Olympics.

“It’s been a blessing to experience this journey with your family at such a high level,” said Jean Lopez, now coaching his third Olympics. “In today’s world, it’s very difficult for a family to sit down to have dinner and share quality time, but for us, to find a sport like Taekwondo that we’re all passionate about has kept us close.”

Photo by Jacob Corrigan
Coach Jean Lopez speaking outside of a Team USA practice about the upcoming events.

With Jean as their coach, the history-making family celebrated in Beijing in 2008 as Steven and Diana won bronze and Mark brought home a silver medal.

“This sport has brought us together, closer than most family members and siblings,” said Jean. “It’s a very intimate moment that you share together when you’re competing at this level.”

Steven won gold medals during the 2000 and 2004 summer games and hopes to reclaim that spot following his Beijing bronze.

“When it gets to this stage of the games, the mental preparation and the emotional preparation comes into play a lot more,” one of Steven’s training partners during the Olympics, Nir Moriah said.

Emotion can be a mind game while training and competing at this level, but Jean said he thinks family helps him all deal with it.

“It’s a very lonely feeling sometimes and when you know other people have experienced it, in this case your siblings, then you can relate to each other about what you’re going through,” he said. “We can help each other and empathize.”

Beyond the emotional support, the Lopez family members are each other’s greatest competitors.

“In our family, it’s still competitive, not about the accomplishments, but we’re just trying to live in the moment,” said Coach Jean. “We are always competing whether it’s playing basketball, soccer, poker or any other sports. We always want to win.”

He admits, however, that the constant desire to see their family succeed can actually be hard on them.

“For me as a coach, it is very difficult to just be their brother,” he said. “I feel like I always need to be the coach over the brother. I tend to always have their interests as an athlete first.”

Despite this, Jean believes this dedication has paid off for the team.

“I feel like everyone is ready now. Steven, Diana, TJ and Paige look very good,” he said.

With the Lopez family at the center of USA Taekwondo, people may overlook the other two competitors, Terrence Jennings, 25, who beat out Mark Lopez for a spot, and Paige McPherson, 21, a former dancer and first time Olympian. Also, Team USA has brought along several training partners for the athletes including Charlotte Craig, who competed in Beijing, and Nir Moriah.


Photo by Jacob Corrigan
Nir Moriah talks with media about training with Steven and the team atmosphere on and off the mats.

“In the gym, we’re all teammates, brothers and sisters. We see each other everyday,” Craig said. “Even outside of the gym, it’s hard to separate us.”

Craig was the fourth member to the 2008 Taekwondo Lopez team. Steven, Diana and Mark all secured the other three spots on Team USA in Beijing.

“We always joked that I was part of the family. The adopted Lopez,” said Craig. “I really do feel like their youngest sister. They took me under their wing and were always there for me.”

Even though Craig finds herself as only a training partner for this summer’s games, she said she still feels a part of the team. This extended family of Team USA serves two purposes said Moriah, Steven’s training partner.

“Inside the gym, it’s all business. This pressure requires a certain degree of intensity with a ‘no room for error’ kind of mentality,” Moriah said. “Once workouts are over, it’s about hanging out and being the way we normally are.”

Thanks to the hours of training and preparation over the last four years, this group is already familiar with one another.

“There is a group from Miami that trains together then also a group from Houston,” Moriah said. “Everyone has known each other for a long time so it’s almost like we are family. Some actually are.”

Photo by Jacob Corrigan
Charlotte Craig practices Taekwondo against other training partners.

On Aug. 9 and 10, this Taekwondo family, Lopez or not, will support each other as they try to fight for multiple gold medals. Team USA Taekwondo and the Lopez family continue to remind Americans of the Olympic spirit.

“What I notice is that there is a degree of comfort and a degree of stability in a sense that no matter where they are in the world, a family has that home court advantage and that support,” Moriah said.

Leyva takes home the Bronze for USA in Men’s All-Around Gymnastics Finals

By Holly Moody, Jacob Corrigan, Jillian Fellows

After a strong comeback, United States gymnast Danell Leyva rallied to take home the the bronze medal in the Men’s all-around gymnastics finals in North Greenwich arena on Thursday. Kohei Uchimura of Japan dominated and captured the gold while Marcel Nguyen of Germany came away with the silver. Leyva had a rough start as he faltered on the pommell horse but secured his spot for a medal with a horizontal bar score of 15.700 towards the end of the sixth rotation. Levya placed for the bronze with an overall score of 90.698.  His fellow teammate John Orozco, of the Bronx, fell short coming in 8th with a score of 89.331. Leyva pushed for a strong finish and celebrated his victory with his coach and stepfather Yin Alvarez following his performance.

The slideshow above presents memorable images from the event. This video shows Levya’s medal ceremony.

Here is Leyva’s vault.

Danell Leyva Vault at the Men’s All-Around Finals at the London Olympics from Scripps London 2012 on Vimeo.

Here is American John Orozco’s vault.

John Orozco Vault – Men’s Gymnastics All-Around Finals, London 2012 from Scripps London 2012 on Vimeo.

Here is Leyva’s bronze-medal clinching routine on the horizontal bar, and his reaction.

Dannel Leyva’s Horizontal Bar leads to Bronze Medal and Classic Reaction from Scripps London 2012 on Vimeo.