STRONG! chronicles an athlete’s struggle to defend her champion status as her lifetime weightlifting career inches towards its inevitable end.
Cheryl Haworth defies categories. A 12th generation patriotic American, a visual artist, and, since age 14, America’s top Olympic weightlifter, she is an elite at the international level. A formidable figure in American weightlifting. Haworth is ranked well above all men and women on Team USA. But at 5 foot 8 inches and weighing over 300 pounds, she doesn’t easily fit into standard chairs, clothing sizes, or pre-conceptions. As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach, Haworth struggles with injuries, the end of her career, and the difficult task of re-defining herself and building a sense of confidence that she can bring with her as she leaves the sport that has given her a sense of pride.
STRONG! explores the contradiction of a body that is at once celebrated within the confines of her sport and shunned by mainstream culture. Through Haworth’s journey of strength, vulnerability, loneliness, and individuation, we learn not only about the sport of lifting weight, but also the state of being weighty: the material, psychological, and social consequences and possibilities of a having a body that doesn’t fit.