“Strong!” is an entertaining portrait of Cheryl Haworth, a 2000 bronze medalist in women’s weightlifting, as she trains for her third and final Olympics and faces a life no longer focused on the sport. An engaging subject and a seldom-scrutinized athletic competition (at least on the distaff side, which is still fairly new to the Games) make Julie Wyman’s documentary a fun watch, even though there’s ultimately not a great deal of narrative drive or deeper insight. Pic is playing scattered one-off theatrical dates around the country the week before its July 26 broadcast premiere on PBS’ “Independent Lens.”
A prizewinner from age 15, the Savannah, Ga., resident became a national celebrity two years later following her 2000 Sydney Olympics success, then placed sixth in Athens in 2004. A “super-heavyweight” at about 300 pounds, she’s self-assured and comfortable discussing how “being big” is “very good for what I do.” Injuries in that athletic pursuit being common, however, her competitive career is inevitably winding toward an end; while prepping for a last hurrah in Beijing, she considers different career paths. Some stylized studio-shot sequences and brief animation diversify a well-crafted package.