ST. LOUIS — It's not the way Jeanette Antolin wants to do this, but after her left ankle swelled and an MRI exam showed some bone chips floating around, the decision was easy.
Antolin, the 18-year-old Huntington Beach gymnast, withdrew from the 2000 U.S. Championships Saturday and has asked for an injury petition into next month's Olympic trials.
Don Peters, Antolin's coach at SCATS Gymnastics in Huntington Beach, said he talked to U.S. women's team coordinator Bela Karolyi before withdrawing Antolin. Peters said he asked Karolyi if he thought he might need Antolin on the team because otherwise Antolin would go ahead and have surgery to remove the bone chips.
"But Bela said that if Jeanette was able to keep training and not hurt herself further that she should do it and try to go to trials," Peters said Saturday night. "So that's what we'll do. We'll go home, let her rest until Thursday and then try to start training again."
The top 12 finishers in the all-around competition advanced to the Aug. 17-20 Olympic trials in Boston. Antolin had been in 14th place after the preliminaries Thursday, when she reinjured the ankle on her last tumbling pass on the floor exercise when she took a bad fall.
"I wanted to earn my way to Boston," Antolin said, "but after the X-rays I knew I couldn't go [Saturday night]."
Antolin was not the only athlete to withdraw and attempt to reach the trials with an injury petition.
Seven-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller and Miller's 1996 gold-medal U.S. teammate Jaycie Phelps also withdrew from Saturday night's competition. Because she was a member of the 1999 U.S. world team, it is expected Antolin's petition will be granted.
Peters said that if Antolin is unable to begin training her full routines by the weekend, it's unlikely she could go to Boston. Karolyi has the option of choosing any gymnasts to the six-woman team and Karolyi has been impressed with Antolin in his Houston training camps.
The injured gymnasts, including Antolin, will have to travel to Houston three days before the Boston trials and perform for Karolyi in order to prove they are healthy enough to compete.