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Published: Saturday, 4/9/2005

Olympic blast pain endures for former Sylvania resident

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Christian Sobb was injured by shrapnel at the Olympics. He has since married and has a 7-month-old son, Christian, Jr. Christian Sobb was injured by shrapnel at the Olympics. He has since married and has a 7-month-old son, Christian, Jr.
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Christian Sobb had work to do and let his cell phone ring.

The phone kept ringing, unanswered.

The former Sylvania resident suspected something. Then he heard that Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the 1996 bombing at Olympic Centennial Park and so avoid the death penalty.

Mr. Sobb was 20 yards from the blast. Flying shrapnel struck him as he was thrown off his feet.

"A lot of people were hurt physically and mentally, and we have to deal with that the rest of our lives," Mr. Sobb, 33, said in a telephone interview from his suburban Atlanta home.

Rudolph's arrest nearly two years ago was a relief, he said at the time.

The plea arrangement might bring closure to some survivors, he said last night.

It's not as though Mr. Sobb has been concerned about Rudolph's fate.

But the bombing "is always on my mind," said Mr. Sobb, now sales manager of a software company.

"I had horrible injuries from that accident. There's permanent damage done," Mr. Sobb said.

"Whether I think of him personally, what happened to me is there every day of my life," he said.

Mr. Sobb is a 1990 graduate of St. John's Jesuit High School.

In 1996, he lived in Raleigh and went to Atlanta to see the Olympics.

When the explosion occurred, pieces of shrapnel fractured his pelvic bone. A scar on his right hip several inches long is evidence of an injury that still causes pain. A piece of shrapnel was removed from just above his left ankle.

X-rays last month showed that two pieces of shrapnel remain in the left calf.

Airplane flights, even simple car rides, cause hip, leg, and back pain.

"There are things that were very much a part of my life I don't do today," he said: Water skiing, snow skiing, soccer - recreational and competitive.

"It was a horrific, painful night," Mr. Sobb said.

"That night moved into days and weeks of pain and ultimately took a long time of physical rehabilitation to be able to walk without crutches.

"It's tough going from being an athletic person to [retraining] your muscles just so you can walk," he said.

Mr. Sobb and his wife, Andrea, have been married four years. Christian, Jr., was born seven months ago. Mr. Sobb returns to the Toledo area when he can to visit family.

In the rush of the Rudolph announcement, he did not have a chance to form an opinion on the plea arrangement, Mr. Sobb said.

Just the fact of news about the bombing, any news, seemed an intrusion and, last night, brought back disturbing memories.

"It does anger me. Everything about it," Mr. Sobb said. "It's reopening old wounds and memories that have taken a long time to temper."

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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