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Athlete-doctor goes for gold


August 14, 1996
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Jeff Levine

BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- Softball player and orthopedic surgeon Dot Richardson is not the only doctor-athlete to compete in Atlanta this summer. Pediatric resident Diane Straub takes to the pool for 3-5 miles a day, training for this summer's Paralympic Games.

Richardson delayed her orthopedic surgery residency for a year -- long enough to win a gold medal at the recently completed Olympic Games in Atlanta.


In Baltimore, Straub, who lost her right leg in an automobile accident eight years ago, is a resident at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

And she's already won one gold medal -- the 100-meter freestyle swimming relay in Barcelona in 1993 -- setting a world record in the process.

Straub, a multi-sport athlete and scholar before the accident that cost her leg, says the tragedy motivated her to push harder.

"I got home and all of a sudden it was real," she says. "At that point, you're faced with it. It's time to go on with the rest of your life."

At Barcelona, Straub was up against the world's finest disabled athletes, and took her place alongside them.

"Oh, it was incredible," she remembers. "The Paralympic motto is 'triumph of the human spirit.' They live that every day in their lives."

movie icon Straub and coach practice at the pool (842K QuickTime movie)

Now at age 28, Straub says she is ready for the 1996 Paralympics. U.S. Swim Team coach Murray Stephens agrees.

"She has great capacity to just come in and jump in and do the training," Stephens says. "That's very comparable to any of our athletes."

Straub's training routine includes swimming three to five miles a day. She hopes to win a medal again in Atlanta, but there's more to her effort than just going for the gold.

Straub & Clinton

She says it was a special honor to pass the Paralympic torch to President Clinton during a White House ceremony earlier this month. And she sees her future working with those who have a different kind of disability -- one of economics and opportunity.

"I think that inner-city kids tend to be children who don't have opportunities, and I think that we need to change that and allow them to reach their potential," she says.

Straub will put forth her athletic best in Atlanta in the coming days, but when her competitive days are over, she'll still have many more laps to go.


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