Haworth’s latest Olympic journey begins
Source: WTOC By Tim Guidera
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – She’s familiar with the way years of preparation disappear into days of waiting.
But as she started on her way to Beijing today, Cheryl Haworth’s third Olympics will be about their differences from her first two, the personal and competitive changes that have occurred in the last four years and will define her time in China.
”It’s critical for me to get some of that confidence back that I lost from being injured,” said Haworth, who departed left Savannah this morning and will arrive in China Sunday afternoon. “And from being placed in a situation when I had to go into a competition and compete no matter how I felt.”
Haworth is perhaps the last person you’d expect to struggle with confidence.
She is the greatest female weightlifter America has ever produced. She’s already an Olympic medalist who has excelled in international competition since she was in high school.
But a lot has happened on the way to 25.
“A lot has happened the last two years,” said Haworth, who was just 17 at her first Olympics in Sydney, where she earned a bronze medal. “A lot happened that has worked to my disadvantage and it got a little hairy at times.”
There have been injuries, elbow surgery and a series of setbacks that have interrupted her training.
There’s also been emotional pain, a falling out with and eventual split from her longtime coach and one-time confidant Mike Cohen.
“It’s unfortunate. Nobody likes to have that uncomfortable situation,” said Haworth. “Nobody likes to have a falling out with anybody, it’s not fun. But it happens and you move on.”
And Haworth has done that, leaving Team Savannah, whose banner she carried for years, and training with the new Coastal Empire Weightlifting group.
She also has a new coach, Don McCauley, who worked with her at Cohen’s gym for years.
And, while some of Haworth’s heaviest training is still to take place in Beijing, McCauley says she was starting to look as strong as ever before leaving Savannah.
“If she continues to improve and we don’t have any injuries, I think she’s a medal contender,” McCauley said of Haworth, who competing in the 2004 Games 14 months after elbow surgery and was injured on her first attempt in Athens. “The thing I like about Cheryl is she’s a veteran. Veterans usually do well in bigger contests, so I think her chances are pretty good.”
Now it’s time to begin the countdown until those chances play out in Beijing on August 16.
So it was another early morning run to the airport for Haworth today, the start to one more of those long international trips she’s been taking for 10 years now. But this time, the Olympics will be very different for her.
It’s the expectations she takes into any competition that will be the same as always.
“I really enjoy the stressful situations, when my back is against the wall is when I perform the way I know I can,” said Haworth. “I’m really looking forward to the anxious feeling I get – just load it on the bar and I’m going to be able to do it.”
And if she does, a second Olympic medal will put any issues with confidence in the past.