DR. TAMARA LOVELACE of Alton was recently chosen to work for the US Olympic Team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Courtesy) (click for larger version)
February 24, 2021ALTON — Anyone who has ever walked into the Seacoast Spine and Sports Injuries Clinic in Portsmouth or Alton is probably well aware of Dr. Tamara Lovelace's love for the Olympics.
Posters from Olympic Games, both recent and historic, line the walls of the offices and soon enough, Lovelace will have some personal experience to go with those posters.
Lovelace has been selected to serve as the chiropractor for Team USA at the Beijing Winter Olympics next February, something that came as quite a surprise when the phone call came in just a few weeks ago.
"The phone call for Beijing was out of the blue," Lovelace said, noting that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) changed medical directors last winter and she had never met the new director, Dr. Jonathan Finnoff.
However, Lovelace has worked with US Olympians at bobsled and skeleton events, mostly in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she works as part of the volunteer medical staff.
According to the Team USA web site, the USOPC Sports Medicine department provides volunteer opportunities for qualified sports medicine providers to support U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence. This program offers volunteers the opportunity to support Team USA by working with USOPC team members in providing an integrative, collaborative, multidisciplinary care approach for Team USA athletes. Volunteers will have the opportunity to collaborate and work alongside the USOPC Sports Medicine Team.
It was when Lovelace was gearing up for a trip to Lake Placid to work with the sliding teams when the call about Beijing came in.
They were asking if she would like to be the chiropractor for the medical clinic for Team USA in the Olympic Village in Beijing.
"I thought the call was about Lake Placid," she said. "I was a little bit in shock."
While the call about Beijing did come out of the blue a bit, Lovelace was one of a couple of people who were on the short list to travel to the Games with the US Bobsled Team, but now that spot will go to someone else.
As part of the volunteer program, doctors that work with athletes are ranked by the athletes and medical staff and these rankings are what helps determine if someone is chosen to be part of the medical teams at the Olympics.
"They rank their providers," said Lovelace. "They want people onsite with a wide variety of disciplines.
"People in Colorado Springs (where the USOPC is based), they've known me since 2010," she added. "They don't usually bring in volunteers for the Winter Games, so that they're bringing me in is an honor."
Lovelace is a Diplomat of American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians and while working toward that title, the opportunity comes to do volunteer rotations at the Olympic Training Centers.
"It's a great opportunity for doctors to get to work with Olympic athletes and to work in a multi-dimensional setting," Lovelace said.
Over the last decade, Lovelace has done a number of rotations through Lake Placid and Colorado Springs, with the first one coming in 2010.
"It's all volunteer, but it's a great opportunity," she said.
In Beijing, which will become the first city to ever host both the Summer Olympics (2008) and Winter Olympics, Lovelace will work in the Olympic Village, which is located near the indoor venues, which would include figure skating, speed skating, curling, ice dancing and hockey.
In all likelihood, those are the sports that Lovelace will be dealing with, as the athletes in the outdoor events will be living in villages closer to their venues, which are located in the mountains outside the city of Beijing.
And as a native Canadian, Lovelace is very excited to get the chance to work with hockey players.
And as cool as it is to be part of the USOPC medical team in Beijing next February, there's a good chance that that won't even be her first Olympic experience.
Back in 2005, Lovelace was working for WMI Global, which provides medical teams for many tours and events as they tour around the country. One of their clients was the Dew Tour and the coach for Team USA liked her work and asked if she'd be interested in being a team doctor for the BMX racing team.
"Each year I did a couple more events and I've been at all the world championships and World Cup ones the last year or so," Lovelace said. "I love working with that team."
Lovelace knew she was on the list to possibly travel with the cycling team to Tokyo in the summer of 2020 at the end of 2019. Then those Games were postponed and Lovelace was not sure if she'd get another chance.
"I'm on the short list now," she said, noting her familiarity to the athletes is an advantage for her when it comes to a possible selection. "The coach is big on procedure, he believes it takes anxiety away from the athletes."
Lovelace has actually already been to the Tokyo Olympic BMX site as part of the test events that took place prior to the scheduled Olympics. During that visit, a tsunami warning was part of the experience as well.
She notes that the plan she has seen for the Tokyo Games this coming summer look solid and she anticipates that the Games can happen.
And it's a safe bet, if you go to the Seacoast Spine and Sports Injuries Clinic some time after next winter, there may be some more Olympic memorabilia on the walls.
The Seacoast Spine and Sports Injuries Clinic in Alton is located at 291 Main Street, between Alton Village and Alton Bay. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics start on July 23 of this year and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics start on Feb. 4, 2022.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.