Despite missing out on the 2008 Olympic Games, eight-time World Cup medalist Elsa Garcia (Mexico) told IG this week she is hopeful to prove herself at this fall's world championships and eventually the 2012 Olympics, both taking place in London.
Elsa Garcia (Mexico)"It was tough to continue knowing that my goal and dream was passing me by," said Garcia of the 2008 Olympic Games, for which she did not qualify. "It was hard seeing the competitions on TV in my house, but I wouldn't let myself quit. First of all, because I can't give up on something that fills me with happiness and that I still enjoy very much. Second, I know who I am, and what I am capable of doing if I set my mind to it, so there's nothing like keeping on training and setting new goals to keep myself motivated. Of course, not every day is a great day, but overcoming the hard parts is what makes us realize why we are doing this."
After winning seven World Cup medals during the 2007 season, Garcia injured the psoas muscle that extends from the lower back to the pelvis. The injury hampered her at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart that served as the qualification meet for Beijing. Based on the Mexican team's 20th-place finish in Stuttgart, only its top all-around gymnast there (Marisela Cantu) earned an Olympic berth.
Garcia, who had hoped to earn a wild-card berth for Beijing, said her performance at the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid a few months after the Olympics in Beijing gave her renewed confidence. Garcia placed fourth on vault and eighth on floor exercise in Madrid. Earlier in 2008 she won her eighth World Cup medal, a bronze on uneven bars, at the Joachim Blume Memorial in Barcelona.
"2007 was a really special and contradictory year for me, because I achieved so much in the World Cup series and obviously because of my injury that left me out of Beijing," said Garcia, who trains under the husband-and-wife coaching partnership of Antonio Barraza and Teresa Lopez at Regio Club in Monterrey. "2008 was kind of frustrating, mainly because I didn't know if I would get the wild card or not. Finally I got an answer to that, and, well, you know all about that. The World Cup Final in Madrid came like a surprise for us, and it helped my coaches and me get the hang of things again, and to reassure me that I want to keep doing this for another four years."
Garcia said she is anxious to return to competition following surgery on her left hand earlier this year.
"I am totally healthy right now, and would like to keep myself that way!" Garcia said. "There was an abnormal bone growth (on the hand) due to hard impacts and over-training. So I had surgery, and then had to recover from it and start little by little again. So this year I haven't competed at all."
Garcia said the new Code of Points for women's gymnastics has encouraged her to make changes on every event except vault, where she is still performing a 1-1/2 twisting Yurchenko and a Podkopayeva. On uneven bars, her mount (from a run) is a jump to handstand full pirouette, and she is doing a giant 1-1/2 to Jaeger. On balance beam Garcia said she has "the same skills but arranged differently for the connections." On floor exercise she is training a double layout.
At the 2009 Worlds in London (Oct. 13-18), Garcia said she hopes to compete all four events, and qualify for the all-around, vault and floor exercise finals. The Mexican team for worlds will be named following a trial competition in early September in Mexico City.
Garcia said she and her coaches will emphasize consistency, regardless of how many events on which she will compete in London.
"This year is the first year in the Olympic cycle, so we're taking it slow, because next year will be a busy one," Garcia told IG. "I don't know if I'll be showing all of my skills at worlds, but in the end, clean routines are what we're looking for."
Elsa Garcia is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
Garcia cover photo, "IG Interview: Elsa Garcia" (May 2007)
"IG Profile: Elsa Garcia" (May 2006)
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