Summer Olympic Games

Published 10:46 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

 For the fourth consecutive Summer Olympic Games, a South Mississippi physician is keeping a watchful eye over some of the top athletes in the world.

Dr. Bob Terrell, an Ocean Springs resident, is the Chief Medical Officer for the International Softball Federation. He will be the supervising physician for the Olympic softball competition, which involves 120 players from eight different countries.

Terrell, an orthopedic specialist, is a co-founder of Sports Medicine Specialists of Mississippi, which provides team doctors and athletic trainers to about 20 prep and junior college teams in the six southernmost counties in the state of Mississippi.

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His arrival in Beijing for this year’s Summer Olympiad marks his fourth such outing in his ISF capacity, following stops in Atlanta (1196), Sydney, Australia (2000) and Athens, Greece (2004) and now China.

“It never gets old, that’s for sure,” Terrell said. “When you are young, if you are any type of sports fans at all, you dream of making it one day to the Olympics. I wasn’t a very good athlete, so I found a way to contribute through sports medicine.”

Not only will Terrell handle all doping control testing and issues, but he will provide hands on sports medicine coverage for any athletes that need it as well.

Terrell moved to South Mississippi in 1997 from Oklahoma, after serving as one of the chief physicians for the University of Oklahoma’s athletic teams.

He and Dr. Jeff Noblin, a Jackson native and former standout football player at Ole Miss, then joined together to form Sports Medicine Specialists.

“I think the experience we get working with the Olympic athletes can be beneficial to some of the athletes that we cover at a local level as well,” Terrell added. “We are always learning new techniques and new technology in the field of Sports Medicine that we can use at home as well as in the Olympic games.”

Terrell’s work with International competition began in 1992, and in addition to serving at the previous Summer games he has been involved with several Pan-Am games as well as World Softball Championships.

“I got an opportunity to work on the international level through my work on the collegiate level and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Terrell added. “It can play havoc with your private practice at times, having to be gone for weeks at a time, but it’s fun to try and juggle both. Plus the friendships you make with the athletes and coaches as well as the other medical staffs are invaluable.”

Although the United States has won the Gold in the previous three Olympic games that Terrell has been involved in, it has been kind of bittersweet for Terrell.

Because of his position that oversees all athletes, he is not allowed to cheer for any team outwardly during the competition. In fact, he can’t even wear red, white and blue when the USA is playing.

“Over the course of time I’ve kind of gotten used to it,” Terrell said. “But I still feel myself at times inside pulling for the USA team, it’s only human nature. I just hope no one gets seriously injured.”

His fourth trip to the Olympics may be his last…maybe. Softball, along with baseball, isn’t on the program for the 2012 games in London. But he hopes the sport will be added back to the program in 2016. A vote late next year by the IOC will determine the fate of the sport.

“I guess if I go to London, it will be on my own,” Terrell concluded. “But I certainly think softball should be a part of these games and hopefully I will return with them.”