Echoes of past Olympics live at the Anderson / Cohen Weightlifting Center

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The 1996 Olympics helped make the city of Atlanta what it is today.

It has also left more subtle marks on Savannah.

One of these brands is a small brick building near the Memorial Stadium that housed some of the world’s best athletes.

It’s a gym that was once created for Olympians and is now open to everyone.

“We had hundreds of teams and thousands of athletes, both Olympic and Paralympic,” said Michael Cohen, executive director of the Anderson / Cohen Weightlifting Center. “One of the things the commissioners wanted to see was that they didn’t want children from Chatham County and Georgia to go elsewhere for top-notch coaching.”

Cohen was the director of the weightlifting center leading up to the 1996 Olympics. A position he still holds today.

“It’s a great honor to have something that was part of the 1996 Olympics and is still here today, and is still supported by the county that operates and manages the facility,” said Cohen.

Cohen’s Olympic memories, however, go back much further than Atlanta; until his time in the American squad in 1980, which eventually suspended the Moscow Olympics.

“Once you’re an Olympian, you’re an Olympian for life, so you have the award and the honor,” Cohen said.

Right next to the photos of Michael are pictures of his father Howard, a national lifting master who gives the gym its name.

“My dad trained me in the weight room,” said Michael Cohen. “I was no longer his son, I was his athlete. Outside of the weight room, I wasn’t his athlete anymore; I was his son. ”

The Anderson / Cohen Weightlifting Center enables Michael to offer children across Chatham County the same opportunity he was given.

“This facility is where children aged five and over train,” said Cohen. “This is under the auspices of a world-class coach and people who know what they’re doing.”

With enough time and exercise, someone could one day rise to Team USA in the gym, just like Michael Cohen did all those years ago.

In addition to participating in the Olympics, Cohen coached the women’s weightlifting team at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens games.

He now travels around 125 days a year teaching clinics.

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