Local Olympians' Security Concerns

Local Olympian Cheryl Haworth.
Local Olympian Cheryl Haworth.

The Olympics are about a month away and the entire world is wondering what kind of impact the war on terror will have on the athletes. Olympians from right here at home are expecting tighter security. We spoke with two American Olympic weightlifters from Savannah who say they're keeping their focus on their training but can't help thinking about their safety in Athens.

As far as weightlifter Cheryl Haworth is concerned, just throw some more weight on the bar, and let coach do the worrying. She's got the Olympics to think about. "It's a very important thing for us and to get distracted by that wouldn't be too wise going into the games," she said.

"I think the athletes need to be focused on lifting, that's the most important thing," said coach Michael Cohen. "Because if they're focused on security they're in a world of hurt."

But try as they might, security is going to be impossible to ignore completely.

"I think it'll be like G-8 times ten or something like that," Oscar Chaplin, whose son will be competing in his second Olympics, told us. "I think it'll be a whole lot worse than we saw here in Savannah."

But despite the glaring differences between Sydney and Greece, he's not giving it much thought. "The situation that you go through has nothing to do with what happens when you step on that platform," he said.

For most athletes, it's not much of a question. If you want to compete, you've got to go to Athens. For a lot of friends and family, though, there's a tougher decision to make.

"If anything, I'm going to be more worried about them," Haworth said. "They're not going to be in the Olympic Village or as secure as we are. They're just going to be floating around."

Despite that, though, all of Savannah's Olympic families are still planning on being there.

One of the biggest changes between the last Olympics and this is that the athletes are going to be confined to the Olympic Village almost exclusively, and even their closest family members won't be able to come in to visit.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com