Local Olympic Medalist Competing Again After Surgery - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Local Olympic Medalist Competing Again After Surgery

Cheryl Haworth Cheryl Haworth

Cheryl Haworth is an Olympic medalist facing the biggest challenge of her career. She won a bronze medal in weight lifting at the Sydney Olympics when she was only 17 and was considered a can't-miss contender for gold in the upcoming summer games. But that was before major elbow surgery.

Last June, Haworth suffered a major injury at the world championships many thought might cost her her career. But Dr. James Andrews rebuilt that elbow, performing double surgery. Haworth showed us where they rebuilt the ulnar collateral ligament. "It was snapped in half," she said, "and on this side they had to reattach the radial collateral ligament and screw it back to the bone."

Such an injury would have cost many athletes their Olympic careers. "To recover, very difficult, and even more so when you're at the top of the world with an injury the doctors have never seen before," said Team USA coach Mike Cohen.

But after ten months of rehab at Memorial Health, Cheryl Haworth is back. Not just lifting weights: Haworth is back to winning national championships, winning the gold Sunday night after lifting a total of 588 1/2 pounds.

The extent of her comeback is a sweet surprise. "I think everyone is [surprised], even me," she said. "Great family and friends pushing me along,  which is really important when you're hurt really bad. But no one gave it a second thought that I wouldn't come back."

"It scares me more than her," said Cohen. "An injury in this sport is rare and hard to come back from, especially an injury like that."

Now Haworth's comeback isn't the surprise, but coming back just eight months after surgery is incredible. Now the expectation are back on Athens on the 2004 Olympics, and not just to making the team. "I want to go and win, just like the 10,00 other athletes," she said.

"We've already won bronze, this time we're going for a better color," added Cohen.

The only color on Haworth's mind now happens to be gold. She will be bringing home her latest gold medal late tonight. She'll start training for the Olympic trials in May right away.

Reported by: Mitch Glicken, mglicken@wtoc.com


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