March 8, 2016
Streblow lends helping Olympic hand
Part of patriotic pride is providing a helping hand for our nation’s athletes, especially with the 2016 Summer Olympic Games arriving this coming August.
Cortland’s Greg Streblow did his part last month, the physical therapist spending two weeks volunteering his time and skills at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. There he helped tend to the aches and injuries and other problems occurred by those preparing for the most crucial time of their sporting lives.
“All of them, almost all of them, have important qualifications coming up soon,” noted Streblow of his Feb. 14-28 stay working mostly at the Olympic Training Center’s clinic. “The Olympics are later this summer, but then there’s also the trials to qualify for them or some guys have world championships coming up.”
The 43-year-old Streblow, who has been on the staff at Goldwyn and Boyland Physical Therapy since 1999 helping to heal local folks at the Tompkins Street establishment, spent his first day and last day in Colorado at practice with the men’s gymnastic squad. With those gymnasts away for competitions and exhibitions during most of Streblow’s stay, he would then handle the various needs of any athlete who walked through the clinic doors on any particular day.
Over those two weeks he saw competitors from men’s modern pentathlon, men’s and women’s weightlifting, men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s Paralympic cycling, men’s Paralympic soccer, men’s Paralympic skiing, women’s Taekwondo, men’s and women’s boxing, women’s judo and men’s skating as well as the men’s gymnastics squad.
Most are striving to get to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Games that will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro.
Some foreign athletes from Australia, Africa and Asia also needed attention while sharing the Colorado Springs training facilities, with Streblow seeing an average of 10 athletes per day during his stay.
“HONESTLY, I DON’T know how the men gymnasts do what they do without tearing up their shoulders, and a lot of them do have torn up shoulders,” said Streblow after returning home from Colorado.
“A lot of it is just sort of like maintenance stuff. Like, whenever I do these things I know my shoulder is going to be stiff so I want to try to stay on top of it, not wait for it to be a really bad problem. So there was a lot of that sort of thing,” he said of his duties. “There were also a lot of traumatic injuries, people, for example, who crashed going 75 miles per hour on skis. So they have trauma and concussions and that kind of stuff. So there was a variety.”
Having a different challenge is just what Streblow enjoys.
“I have a little bit of ADD kind of tendencies,” he noted, referring to Attention Deficit Disorder. “I like something different to be happening. I don’t strive on routine.”
Streblow arrived to Central New York as a 17-year-old via Wisconsin and Boston, and went on to earn an Masters of Professional Studies degree in Physical Therapy from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
This Olympic opportunity was made possible because of his involvement with United States Women’s Handball team housed on the SUNY Cortland campus for a few years until 2007. He went to handball tournaments for the men’s and women’s teams, and was involved in workout sessions at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.
“During one of my stints in Lake Placid that was specifically with handball — it wasn’t for the Olympic Training Center, I was just with that one team — the Training Center staff approached me and said I should put in an application to be part of the whole rotation and not just be with them. So I said yeah, let’s do that,” said Streblow.
THAT WAS HOW STREBLOW received his invitation to Colorado Springs to offer his expertise to the Olympic cause.
“There was nothing completely out in left field, but there were different challenges for sure,” he said of the problems he encountered.
“One Paralympic athlete I worked with, he had no legs and he tore up his shoulder. It’s really tough to rest your shoulder when the only option to get around is in a wheelchair, or he walks on his hands a lot,” he added. “So it’s a challenge for sure, one that you don’t see every day. They all have pretty high expectations of themselves, so right now it’s a critical time for them so they can’t afford to miss some (training) time now.”
Streblow works with physical therapist Dave Boyland, who did volunteer work at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Streblow is uncertain if he will be able to savor a similar experience.
“To get selected to the Olympics, basically it comes down to the full-time USOC (United States Olympic Committee) staff goes and then whoever the national governing body selects to go,” he noted. “If Team Handball qualifies, they would probably bring their medical people with them. If we were still part of that program I’d probably get asked, but unfortunately, one, we don’t qualify (for the Olympic Games) and two, they don’t have the program anymore.”
Getting this opportunity provided its own rewards, for sure.
“It was an interesting experience. You never knew what you were going to get,” said Streblow.
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