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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Stilwell’s Nott skips ceremony

Gold medalist chooses to support teammate Haworth from stands

September 23, 2000

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— For Tara Nott, it wasn't much of a choice: Pick up the gold medal she inherited from a drug bust or cheer on a teammate.

"I didn't even have a second thought," she said. "There was no way I was going to miss Cheryl winning our second medal."

So as Cheryl Haworth was battling to a bronze medal at the women's weightlifting venue, a team official was receiving Nott's newfound gold and her bouquet of flowers at the Olympic athletes' village.

"It really makes me feel special that she did that, to come watch me," Haworth said.

Haworth, a 17-year-old high school senior from Savannah, Ga., was third in the women's 165-and-over class.

Nott, a 28-year-old native of Stilwell who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., was second in the 105-pound category until the International Olympic Committee stripped Bulgaria's Izabela Drangava of her gold for flunking a drug test.

That transfer gave the United States its first weightlifting gold in 40 years.

Had Nott chosen the ceremony over Haworth, she would have found it hardly resembled the solemnity of the version played out at venues with cheering crowds and flying flags. This village version was meant to create some sort of recognition for athletes who receive medals after cheating rivals are disqualified.

With no Nott, there was no national anthem. Instead, a baroque trumpet concerto played over loudspeakers as IOC vice president Dick Pound handed the medal to U.S. delegation chief Sandy Baldwin.

U.S. officials said they were irritated by IOC refusal to modify the time or hold the ceremony later.

"Yeah, I would have liked to have won it on the platform," Nott said. "But I'm still very happy to get the gold.

"When I came here I really was just thinking bronze. I'd never thought silver and goodness! I had never thought gold. It was overwhelming," said Nott, who began weightlifting in 1994 after a being a high-level gymnast and soccer player.

Nott's gold was the first for an American weightlifter since Chuck Vinci won the 123-pound title at the Rome Games 40 years ago. Nott's coach, Michael Cohen, predicted that the medals would promote weightlifting.

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