Russell (Russ) Leabch is no stranger to the championship podium; however, in December of 2011 he thought his career had come to an end. “I had a bulge on my ankle,” Russ said. “The bigger it got the more it hurt because it was pushing on a nerve.”
Russ had been diagnosed with a ganglion cyst on his ankle. A ganglion cyst is a swelling that often appears on, or around, joints and tendons in the hand or foot. Russ’s cyst had become so painful that he opted to have it removed.
“I had to learn how to walk again,” Russ said after surgery. “I had a lot of atrophy. One leg was muscular from weight lifting and the other was skinny.”
Less than a year later, Russ went to California to compete in the American Masters Olympic Weight Lifting competition. Russ brought home the gold.
When you ask Russ about his recovery he says, “[Front Range Orthopedics & Spine] wouldn’t quit on me. They really made the difference.”
“Dr. Koldenhoven is the nicest guy,” Russ said with a smile on his face and a gold medal in his hand.
*Olympic weight lifting has two competition lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. This is the ultimate sport of strength and power and should not be confused with power lifting, bodybuilding, or general weight training. Olympic weight lifting tests an individual’s ‘explosive strength’, demonstrating more mobility and a greater range of motion than other lifts. When properly executed, the snatch and the clean and jerk are both dynamic and explosive while appearing graceful.