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Local doctor recalls past Olympic experiences

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- We're less than a month from the summer games in London. It's stirring up a lot of memories for a Chattanooga doctor who's experienced the magic first hand with a team from Ukraine.

Dr. Kurt Chambliss says as an orthopedic surgeon getting the chance to work with Olympic athletes is like a car enthusiast getting to work on a Lamborghini.

"Every time the Olympics roll around it's special to me because of my past, " says Dr. Chambliss.

Chambliss can almost feel what Olympic athletes are going through. He should know, he was once there as a team doctor for Ukraine in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.

"It was electric. The whole place was buzzing. The people, the athletes, the atmosphere, it was extremely cold that night I remember that. It was just incredible. The crowds the cheering," says Chambliss.

Now those memories are scattered up and down his office hallways. Like that one time during the 1996 games in Atlanta where his lifelong Olympic relationship with Ukraine began.

A 15-year-old gymnast struggled with an elbow issue that Ukrainian doctors couldn't pinpoint, so they asked Dr. Chambliss for help.

Chambliss says, "We X-rayed her elbow and found loose bodies, and pieces floating around her elbow."

The Ukrainian team let her compete, and she placed fifth. The very next day Chambliss fixed her elbow.

"We did an arthroscopic procedure and cleaned out her elbow. She went on to place third at the World Championships. Pretty tough young girl."

After that team, Ukraine flew Dr. Chambliss overseas to teach doctors at their Olympic hospital.

He's worked with gymnasts, skiers, skaters swimmers, bob sledders but no hockey players.

"If you made eye contact with a hockey player from Ukraine it was met with a snarl not a smile," he says.

Hockey players aside, Chambliss will always have a special spot for the yellow and blue of team Ukraine.

"I'm a red blooded American that's for sure but I'd love to see the Ukrainians win medals," he says.

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