Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Savannah's Strongest Set to Go; Haworth Tries to Overcome Elbow Injury, Win Gold Medal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Savannah's Strongest Set to Go; Haworth Tries to Overcome Elbow Injury, Win Gold Medal

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID JOHNSON, The Times-Union

When Bob Haworth took his 13-year-old daughter Cheryl for some extra training at a gym in Savannah, Ga., the goal was to get her stronger for softball.

What came of that 1996 visit has nothing to do with softball and everything to do with strength.

In the Anderson-Cohen Weightlifting Center, Cheryl caught her first glimpse of weightlifting and knew she had to give it a try.

That first day, her father said to coach Michael Cohen, "She might be a world champion," not realizing what the future held.

"I joked, 'You might have the strongest woman in the world. You never know,' " Bob said.

But Cheryl, now 21, shakes her head at the tag of being the world's strongest. She's only the strongest in the western hemisphere. That's all.

"Technique, it's all technique. If you're not doing it right, then you're not going to do it well," said Haworth, who will compete for the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics at Athens in August. "It all comes down to physics like keeping the bar close to your body."

While she speaks of physics, her opponents might call it physicality. Haworth stands 5 feet 9 and weighs 296 pounds, but it's her athleticism -- 5.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash and a 30-inch vertical leap -- that dispels many assumptions about weightlifters.

She said matching her bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics -- the first with women's weightlifting as a sport -- would be satisfying. She lifted 270 pounds in the snatch and 330.7 pounds in the clean and jerk without much competition at the May trials in St. Joseph, Mo., to secure her spot in Greece.

Haworth and 24-year-old Oscar Chaplin III, one of three qualifiers for the men's team, have made Savannah the weightlifting capital of America. Haworth said the facilities -- the largest weightlifting center in the United States -- and the coaching have been key in sending her and Chaplin to the Olympics twice. The Savannah natives make up two-fifths of the 2004 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team.

Haworth's 600.7-pound performance in qualifying wasn't close to her American records of 281 pounds in the snatch, 352 in the clean and jerk and 628 total. …

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