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Kupets Is Lost in Latest Blow

August 20, 2003|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

Misfortune struck the U.S. women's team Tuesday for the third time at the World Gymnastics Championships when Courtney Kupets, the national all-around champion and 2002 world champion on the uneven bars, tore her left Achilles' tendon and was knocked out of the competition a day before the women's team finals.

Bob Colarossi, president of USA Gymnastics, said Kupets had tweaked her ankle during Sunday's team preliminaries and underwent an MRI Monday. He said doctors said the test was "neutral," and cleared her to train Tuesday. However, she tore the tendon in the practice gym at the Anaheim Convention Center while doing a snap double Arabian, part of the second tumbling pass in her floor exercise routine.

"If [doctors] had said there's any kind of chance that was going to be an issue, we would have voluntarily withdrawn her," Colarossi said.

Kupets will require surgery, and Colarossi estimated her recovery time as seven to eight months. He added he was unsure if that's when she will compete again or merely walk into the gym, and said doctors will have a better prognosis after surgery. He said he didn't know the identity of the doctors who cleared her to train.

The team had lost national vault champion Annia Hatch to a knee injury and 2002 world balance beam champion Ashley Postell to illness last week.

"It's a hard one," Colarossi said. "It's getting kind of redundant, but we've got a lot of depth. The kids will be ready to go. We're still a good team. This is very hard, particularly after [losing] Annia."

According to rules established by FIG, the international gymnastics federation, the U.S. could not replace her on its roster.

Kupets, 17, was the only U.S. gymnast scheduled to compete on all four apparatus in the team finals. She had also qualified for the uneven bars event final Saturday, but her spot will go to the first reserve, Tatiana Zharganova of Belarus.

Chellsie Memmel is the only other U.S. woman who qualified for an event final. The 15-year-old from West Allis, Wis., will compete for the uneven bars and balance beam titles. Memmel and Carly Patterson also qualified for Friday's all-around finals.

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USA Gymnastics announced it will host next year's Pacific Alliance meet April 13-18 in Honolulu. The event will include men's and women's teams competing in junior- and senior-level artistic and rhythmic disciplines.

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