No Fat Olympians?

As many of you know, I’m an Olympics junkie. I’m not a sports fan in general, but the Olympics… in spite of its flaws, in spite of scandals over the years, there’s still something profoundly special to me about the concept behind it. I want to believe in people from all over the globe coming together to marvel at the possibilities of the human body and speak a universal language of friendly competition. And yes, I have been cheering for Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas and all the incredible athletes out there, whatever country they come from.

I was talking with a friend of a friend the other day about watching the Olympics and she said that I must be seeing a lot of great bodies. I agreed. I’m watching a lot of people who have trained their bodies to do things most of us could never dream of accomplishing.

Yeah, that wasn’t what she meant. She meant men with washboard abs and ‘zero percent body fat.’

First off, I haven’t seen a single person at the Olympics with 0% body fat. And you know why that is? Because people with 0% body fat are not alive to compete in the games or enjoy watching them. They are dead. Period. This is something a lot of people don’t seem to understand right now, but it is the truth.

Second off, while there are some amazing thin athletes and I would never take anything away from any of them, no matter where they finished in the standings, there are some equally amazing fat athletes who are kicking some serious booty over in London and I want to celebrate that fact, too.

This is the gold medal winning Italian men’s archery team. The American team looked fitter, according to current popular standards… but these are the guys who won.

350 pound weightlifter Holley Mangold almost didn’t make it to the Games because she had so much trouble finding sponsorship. Apparently heavy weight class weight lifting isn’t very feminine.

I don’t know whether she’ll medal in weight lifting, but she’s already won gold with her attitude:

I love my body. I think it’s perfect. I don’t know what my personality would be like if I wasn’t so huge. And I think it’s a great thing for me. I’ll never be skinny and I’m perfectly okay with that. As soon as I retire I will be doing cross-fit and I’m sure I’ll go crazy with health stuff. But right now I’m kind of enjoying being a super heavyweight. I kind of like it.

And I’m kind of loving her.

Chances are you haven’t heard of the fattest Olympian this year. Judo doesn’t get a lot of air time here in the US, and everybody’s afraid of showing the ‘bad example’ of somebody who they don’t want to see in a string bikini proving they can be athletic.

Ricardo Blas, Jr. continues his family’s tradition of competing in Judo at the Olympics. His father represented their country of Guam in 1988. But Blas, Jr. did his dad one better. He won his first match to get further in the competition than any other judo contestant from Guam in history.

Ricardo, I hope you’ll be back in 2016 and get even further. All four hundred eighty one pounds of you.

Win or lose, victory, tragedy, or infamy, you don’t get to the Olympics without being damn good at what you do. And isn’t the point to admire the human body and the human spirit working hand in hand to achieve greatness?

Well, that and understanding across borders and language barriers.

Olympians, I salute you, no matter your size, no matter your age, no matter your color, no matter your chances of winning medals.

Best of luck to you all.

8 Responses to “No Fat Olympians?”

  1. BrooklynShoeBabe August 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    I saw the story on Holly Mangold yesterday on the local news. She’s the sister of a New York Jets player and I live in the NY region. I lifted weights in high school for three years. It was the only sport I was good at. Seeing Holly’s story made me wish she was around 25 years ago to be my teenage hero.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. Andie August 6, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    There’s actually a bunch more – I was so excited when I was scrolling through my Olympics app (nerd.) – the official one, not the NBC one – to see how many of the track and field athletes are fat. I think they were mostly shot put? Either way, it’s inspiring to see people (especially women) using their bodies this way. You should profile more of them as the Olympics go on!

  3. -kathy- August 6, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Women’s Water Polo also had some curvy athletes too!

  4. Jo August 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Huge amount of variation! And every one of them has already achieved something amazing by even being there. Some might like this little feature: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19050139 (“Your Olympic athlete body match”) – and it gives you an idea of the physique spread, that’s for sure!

    Considering a bunch of 50+ year olds (show jumping, dressage) are in the process of winning gold medals, I don’t think it’s impossible for any age, body type or anything…

  5. Sara Steeg August 20, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Guter Beitrag. Ich lese jetzt weiter hier im Blog.

  6. davidson August 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I am sorry to break it to you but Ricardo Blas, Jr is a disgrace to this sport.

    First of all, countries that Judo is not so well-known get a free-pass to the Olympics.
    Europe and Japan must win the World and European and Asian championships in order to compete to the olympic games.

    So when you say ” you don’t get to the Olympics without being damn good at what you do ” is not true to some athlete.

    If Ricardo was a European Citizen he would only see the olympics from a telescope. Lucky to be a Guam citizen and can jump to the olympics any time he wants because such countries have the free-pass to un-known, unpopular sports like judo for these countries.

    The best of the best European athletes in Judo may not make it to win one of the 3 positions in the podium so they miss the opportunity to compete to the olympics, it’s that difficult for them.
    Ricardo won one match with an opponent that comes from free-pass-judo-olympic countries. Which means low-end athletes. If his first match would be with a European or Japanese athlete he would have 0 chances as proved many times.
    And being so much fat is bad for the olympic image, bad for judo-image, bad for your heart.

    Now, all athletes who want to go to the olympics-strungle-free, become Guam citizen.

  7. Twistie August 26, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Seriously? A disgrace to the sport? Because he’s an actual amateur who practices a sport he loves without a huge government or collegiate machine to support him? Because he qualified on a wild card?

    To my way of thinking, that makes him even more the sort of athlete who was envisioned by the originators of the modern Olympics.

    Oh, and being from Guam is hardly the only way to get a wild card.

    The United States got at least one, too. Otherwise neither of the American continents would have been represented in Rhythmic Gymnastics. Need proof that first world countries with huge sports factories get wild cards, too? Here’s the story about Julie Zetlin, the US Rhythmic Gymnastics team: http://www.mercurynews.com/other-sports/ci_20936777/u-s-gymnastics-trials-marylands-julie-zetlin-goes

    She didn’t medal, either. But you know what? She competed. She shared her enthusiasm for her sport with other athletes. She got on television, which may encourage a few more little girls to take up ribbons and hoops and dance with them.

    Just like Ricardo Blas, Jr. may encourage a few kids to find themselves a dojo and try out some form of martial arts in Guam.

    It’s not all about medals. It’s even more about the effort, the will to compete, and the courage to keep going when things aren’t easy where you’re from… whether a country not enough people take seriously, or one of the most powerful in the world.

  8. Davidson August 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Twistie !

    They way you put it is so wrong. What do you mean they got the wildcard but they had the courage to compete !?

    Of course, no sucker in this world would deny to compete in the Olympics if they had the wildcard. So when you have the free-pass it’s not the most dificult thing to do if you decide to JUST compete at the olympics.

    I agree about the fact young kids seing other athletes and then they enter the sport. But let’s not take Blas for this because he will attract fat kids to enter the sport. You will say that this is good because fat kids will lose weight if they enter the sport. But this did not happen with Blas, the heaviest athlete in the olympic games IN JUDO (redicules to be in judo the heaviest, just redicules). So fat kids will be even fatter like him.

    Editor’s Note: This is the last comment on the subject. This blog supports Health at Every Size and there is no place for fat shaming here. If you’d like to continue the debate, please do so on your own page. –Miss Plumcake, Editor, Manolo for the Big Girl