Jens Meyer, File, Associated Press
ADVANCE FOR FRIDAY, JAN 6 - FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2011 file photo, winner Simon Cho of the U.S. competes during the 500 meter men final race at the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden. The fractured vertebra in Cho’s lower back still hasn’t fully healed. Yet he’ll be competing this weekend in Salt Lake City, in the U.S. Short Track speedskating championships nonetheless.

KEARNS, Utah — The fractured vertebra in Simon Cho's lower back still hasn't fully healed.

He'll be competing this weekend in the U.S. Short Track speedskating championships nonetheless.

Cho had a breakthrough year last season. After winning Olympic bronze in the 2010 Vancouver Games as part of the men's relay, Cho claimed an individual world title at 500 meters last March.

It motivated him to train harder than he ever trained, and to set the bar even higher.

Then the pain started.

He brushed it off at first, and kept pushing.

Then it reached a point where he couldn't get out of bed.

The Aug. 1 diagnosis was a fracture to his L5 vertebra.