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Tufts In The Olympics: Tufts Doc Makes Olympic Cut

Tufts In The Olympics: Tufts Doc Makes Olympic CutAlmost fifteen years after Dr. Robert Cummings failed to earn an Olympic berth in the luge, the two-time Tufts graduate has finally earned a trip to the Games. Salt Lake City.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.08.02] When Dr. Robert Cummings first set his sights on the Olympics, he hoped his luge sled would be the key to a spot at the 1988 Games. It wasn't, but his medical skills all but made up for it, earning him a trip to this year's Winter Games in Salt Lake City, nearly 15 years later.

"I didn't come close to making [the Olympics] as a luge athlete, but now I'm there as a physician," Cummings told The Boston Globe. "It's interesting that that kind of worked out."

The Boston-area orthopedist -- who earned both an undergraduate and medical degree from Tufts -- is one of just a dozen orthopedic doctors selected to treat this year's athletes.

"Just to be out there and [have] the chance to treat those types of athletes is going to be very, very enjoyable," the Tufts graduate said. "I can't wait."

He may run into some familiar faces.

While a student at the Tufts School of Medicine, Cummings set his sights on earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He chose to compete in the luge, an event he liked watching during the 1976 Olympics.

"I had watched it on TV and I thought it was very enjoyable, the speed, the control of that sled," Cummings told the Lowell Sun. "It really peaked my interest."

He trained for four years, and earned an invitation to the 1988 Olympic Trials at Lake Placid. He was 24 years old at the time.

"I went up there and loved it and was hooked on it," he told the Globe. "It's a great sport. It's just a lot of fun to compete in and to go fast and to drive down the track."

Though an avid athlete, Cummings didn't think he'd place high enough to go to the Games.

"I didn't have any illusion that I was going to make the team," the Tufts-trained doctor told the Globe. "It was very enjoyable just to compete in those trials."

He hasn't forgotten the experience, but medicine has since become his great passion. Now an orthopedic surgeon at Lowell General Hospital and Saints Memorial Medical Center, Cummings is focused on helping people recover from their injuries.

And it is those skills that made him a top candidate for this year's Olympic Games.

"Either way that I made it would be very exciting," Cummings told the Globe. "I trained longer in medicine than I did in the luge."

Which is why his lab coat, not his old luge sled, will be making the trip with him to Salt Lake City.

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