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Weightlifter next Iba recipient

The Rotary Club of Tulsa announced that Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach, who placed sixth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, will be the 2009 female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award.

Roach and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the male recipient, will be honored at the 16th annual Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards, set for June 15.

The Iba Awards, created by the Rotary Club of Tulsa and named in memory of former Oklahoma State basketball coach Henry Iba, are given to athletes who excel in their sport and who show a desire to help others.

Roach bears a heavy burden even when not competing. She and her husband, Dan, have three kids. A son, Drew, was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2 years old.

Roach is a member of Athletes Against Autism, an initiative aimed at raising awareness and raising funds for research into finding causes, effective treatments and a cure for autism.

Roach, who set an American record at the 2008 Olympics, is the 14th Olympic participant and first lifter to be chosen as a female Iba Awards recipient.

Roach became the first U.S. woman to clean and jerk more than double her body weight. An injury caused her to miss the 2000 Olympics, then she set weights aside to start a family. She came out of retirement in 2005 to train for Beijing.

Other past female Iba recipients are basketball players Rebecca Lobo, Dawn Staley and Tamika Catchings; softball player Lisa Fernandez; swimmers Jenny Thompson and Megan Quann Jendrick; tennis player Andrea Jaeger; soccer player Michelle Akers; figure skater Nancy Kerrigan; golfers Amy Alcott and Nancy Lopez, and track icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee.(Tulsa World)