Proud of being the heaviest

Proud of being the heaviest

American weightlifter Holley Mangold tips the scales at 346 pounds (157 kilograms) and she is proud of being the heaviest woman at the London Olympics.

Mangold, 22, who competed in the women’s 75 kilogram-plus division, is one of growing number of women athletes speaking out at their frustration with the public scrutiny of their body size and image rather than their fitness and skills.

At the 2012 Olympics, a list of top female athletes have hit back at critics who have called them fat including British heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, Australian swimmer Liesel Jones, and the Brazilian women’s soccer team.

For Mangold, her weight is a something to be proud of.  “Between my team-mate (Sarah Robles) and I, I think we both showed you can be athletic at any size,” said Mangold whose Twitter profile has the tagline ‘Loving life and living big!’ “I’m not saying everyone is an athlete but I am saying an athlete can come in any size.”

Mangold, who suffered a wrist injury three weeks ago, came 10th in a field of 14 on Sunday, watched by her NFL-playing brother Nick, centre for the New York Jets. Robles came seventh.

The 2012 Olympics have been hailed as the ‘Women’s Games’ for including women in all sports and from all national teams with campaigners hoping this will lead to more role models in sport and increase female participation in physical activity.

Ennis, 26, won gold for Britain on Saturday.  Australia’s three-time gold medallist swimmer Leisel Jones’ figure was questioned by some Australian media before London, who suggested she did not look as fit as at Beijing in 2008.  This sparked an angry reaction from team-mates and an online uproar about body image and what constitutes fit or fat.

“I’m embarrassed by the Aussie media having a go at Leisel, one of Australia’s greatest Olympians. Support athletes don’t drag them down,” fellow swimmer Melanie Schlanger tweeted.

“U can’t judge fitness from looks anyway and how about we don’t criticize at all.”

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