Liberty chiropractor relishes chance to help Olympic decathlon hopefuls

July 28, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LIBERTY - He isn't going to Athens next month, but Dr. Mike Turner knows someone who is. And he helped him get there.

The Liberty chiropractor has spent parts of the past seven months working with two Olympic decathlon hopefuls, one of whom earned a trip to the Summer Games.

Turner followed those athletes from their training in Knoxville, Tenn., all the way to the U.S. Olympic track and field trials earlier this month.

"It's just been amazing," Turner said. "I've been really blessed to have this opportunity."

The opportunity presented itself when a management firm that Turner's clinic works with affiliated itself with the World's Greatest Athletes Club, whose decathletes were training at sites around the country for this month's U.S. Olympic track and field trials.


"The athletes basically spawned that idea," Turner said.

About 1,500 doctors applied to work with the athletes, and he was one of 30 selected. In January, he began traveling to Knoxville one or two weekends a month, where he was assigned to work with decathletes Tom Pappas and Stephen Harris, University of Tennessee graduates who were training for the Olympic trials at their home track.

"What the athletes were really wanting was to be worked over on Friday and Saturday after a grueling week," he said. "It basically tells me that everybody needs chiropractic care."

Turner, who has worked with Casey County High School's basketball teams since he and wife Erica Montgomery-Turner opened their Back and Body Chiropractic Center in 2001, said he was able to balance his work in Knoxville with his work at home.

"This is my main priority, but there are two of us here," he said. "Having Erica here really makes this possible."

The decathlon, in which participants compete in 10 track and field events in a two-day period, is one of the most challenging competitions in all of sports. Turner said treating decathletes presents special challenges, too. One day they might be working with weights as they train for field events, the next they might use an entirely different muscle group as they work on sprints.

He developed greater respect for decathletes

Turner, who played football and basketball in high school in Dayton, Ohio, said he grew up idolizing Olympic gold medalist Dan O'Brien, but he said he developed a greater respect for decathletes after watching them work.

"It's two 10-hour days, then their last event is the 1,500 meters and they run that in 4:28," he said. "That's just pure heart, really."

Turner was one of five doctors in a rotation who worked with the athletes in Knoxville, and he traveled to three competitions in addition to their training sessions.

His work culminated with a trip to the Olympic trials earlier this month in Sacramento, Calif., where he continued to treat Pappas and Harris.

Pappas, the 2003 world champion and one of the favorites to win a gold medal next month, finished second at the trials to secure his spot on the Olympic team. Harris, the reigning NCAA champion, aggravated a knee injury during the pole vault and was forced to withdraw.

Turner said he also got to meet O'Brien and four of the other five Olympic decathlon gold medalists - Milt Campbell, Rafer Johnson, Bob Mathias and Bill Toomey - in Sacramento, and he even caught a ride with O'Brien in his rental car after one event.

Turner won't be going on to Athens with Pappas, as that task falls to two doctors who have been working with Olympic-level athletes for quite a bit longer.

"I'm a rookie this year, so I was low on the totem pole in that aspect," he said.

He plans to continue working with the decathletes, and he said he hopes to "qualify" for an upcoming Olympiad, either the 2008 Games in Beijing or the 2012 Games.

"I'm really shooting for 2012," he said. "That'll give me some time to work some major events."

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