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The Seoul Games / Day 3 : Tragedy Forces U.S. Weightlifter to Return Home Early From Seoul

Less than one week before he was scheduled to begin his Olympic competition, U.S. weightlifter Rich Schutz was faced with tragedy rather than triumph.

Schutz, 22, of Mt. Prospect, Ill., left Seoul Monday with his father, after the death of his mother, Kathleen. Mrs. Schutz died early Sunday morning in a Chicago hospital after a lengthy battle with leukemia. She was 48.

According to Donna Peterson, a Schutz neighbor, Mrs. Schutz had urged her husband and son to make the trip to Seoul, even though doctors had been pessimistic about her health.

“The doctors had warned them that she might not last,” Peterson said Sunday night. "(But) it was Kathy’s deepest, most urgent wish that Richard go to the Olympics and that her husband go, too.”

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Peterson said Mrs. Schutz had always tried to keep her illness quiet, to help her son.

“Kathy didn’t want her son’s story to be shadowed, or so she considered,” Peterson said. “She didn’t want it to be the family of tragedy. She wanted it to be Rich’s story.”

Schutz, a three-time national champion, was considered an outside prospect in the 220-pound division. He is scheduled to lift next Monday afternoon. A weightlifting spokeswoman said officials were unsure if Schutz was going to return to Seoul.

Schutz’ father, Fred, was the 1958 U.S. weightlifting champion.

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