WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- For the first time in her short weightlifting career Cheryl Haworth was scared.
After missing her final lift in the Pan American Games over 75 kilo weight division Saturday, she had to wait for one last attempt from a Colombian woman. When that effort failed, the gold belonged to Haworth of Team Savannah.
"It means a lot," said Haworth, 16. "You know I was really scared there for a second. But now it feels great. I'm working really hard. I'm glad I got the gold."
Haworth bettered her own American records in the snatch, with 117.5 kg and total weight, with 252.5 kg. But when she missed her last lift in the clean and jerk at 140 kg, she had to wait nervously as Maria Urrutia of Colombia attempted to lift 145 kg for the gold medal.
"I went back to the warmup room and watched, hoping she would miss," said Haworth. "But you know, she's a great athlete. She cleaned the weight like it was nothing -- I just don't know what to say right now."
Urrutia completed the clean, but couldn't quite get the bar over her head. She finished with 247.5 kg and the silver medal. Carmenza Delgado of Colombia won the bronze.
Haworth, the best of a crop of promising young stars in Savannah, remained impassive throughout the competition except for a brief smile after lifting 117.5 kg in the snatch.
"I was glad," she said. "It made the whole competition. If I would have missed that lift, it would have been all over. She would have taken it from me. That was the key lift. That's what made it all happen. And that was a personal record for me."
Haworth said the Pan Am Games were an important stepping stone for her.
"In national competition for me, I don't have too many people that scare me as much as in international competition," she said. "It's really, really an eye-opener. These lifters are so good it keeps me motivated and keeps me pushing."
Haworth's lift in the snatch is only 5 kg off the world record, and her coach, Michael Cohen, thinks she will keep improving on through the Olympics in 2000.
"She learned a valuable lesson today," said Cohen. "She made a little mistake and she knew it. And now it will never happen again. It's the kind of experience you have to build up through the years.
"We've got a lot riding on the youth of our program. It's funny, in '96 we weren't in a position to be a fighter because we were real young. Now we're still very young but at least now we're in the hunt. The thing was to come over here and win some medals, get my kids some international competition at a very high level. Now we're going to the next level, which is the Worlds and the Olympics."
The American women won four gold medals and won a medal in every weight class they entered.
Earlier Saturday Wes Barnett won a bronze medal in the 105 kilo weight division.