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Community connection: Mathew Pombo

When the self-described "motorsports junkie" isn't racing cars or repairing them, Dr. Mathew Pombo, a Duluth native, might be found in the operating room repairing torn rotator cuffs and ACLs. The 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon has been with the Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Institute of Gwinnett for a year and loves what he does. A picture he drew in 1979 - at the age of 3 - hangs framed on his office wall. "I want to be a doctor. I want to help people and I want to keep them safe and happy," the picture reads.

After spending three years at Georgia Tech studying bioengineering, Pombo took the Medical College Admission Test early and enrolled in the Medical College of Georgia. "I'm probably the only doctor in Georgia who doesn't have a bachelor's degree," Pombo joked.

A residency at Wake Forest and a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh followed, leading Pombo, a former all-county and all-state soccer player, to his career path.

Pombo and his wife, Beth, will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in September. The couple met at medical school (Beth is a nurse) and gave birth to their first child, Eli, on May 6.

On deciding on orthopaedics as a specialty: My third year of medical school I remember being very familiar with the instruments and saying, 'I have a bunch of these same tools in my shop, they're just not as sterile.'

On being able to "fix" people: It's fun to watch an athlete who was hurt get back out there and compete, but there's also something to be said for the 45-year-old mom playing tennis and getting back to her weekend warrior routine ... cars and humans are very similar in that you have to diagnose the problem and fix it. Working on cars has helped make me a beter physician.

On the progress Gwinnett County has made concerning sports medicine: It's great to see Gwinnett (high schools) take it to almost an NCAA, Division I level. We didn't have all this when I was coming up.

On the dangers of racing and motorcycle riding: I'm not a golfer ... I love racing ... I've raced since I was a kid ... I'm going to be true to myself ... you have to take safety measures ... but whatever happens in life, happens.

On being married to another medical professional: It's really nice to have someone who's been around it and knows the rigors of my job and what it takes. Life could be very difficult if she didn't understand.