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Larson Aims for All-Around Return in 2010
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Recovering from injuries to both ankles that kept her from trying for this year's world championships, Mattie Larson (U.S.) told IG her goals for 2010 include a full recovery and a return to all-around contention.

Recovering from injuries to both ankles that kept her from trying for this year's world championships, Mattie Larson (U.S.) told IG her goals for 2010 include a full recovery and a return to all-around contention.

"As of now, I'm definitely planning on (U.S.) championships in August at the latest," said Larson, who sprained both ankles at a U.S. team training camp in July. "I'd love to be back in competition form by March or April, but we'll see how that goes. If things keep moving forward, slowly, and long as there isn't a big setback, I feel I'll be ready to do all-around."

Larson said watching U.S. teammates Bridget Sloan and Rebecca Bross finish 1-2 all-around at the world championships in London in October yielded mixed emotions.

"There's no way I couldn't watch," said the 17-year-old Larson, who trains under coaches Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles. "They did so well. I was sad, but I knew that wasn't my one and only chance for worlds. There's a worlds every year, and the years go by fast. I'm already thinking of how I'll plan for the next worlds (Oct. 17-24, 2010, in Rotterdam). It was a quick rebound."

Larson, who plans to defer enrollment at UCLA until after the 2012 Olympics in London, said patience and caution have helped her during the recovery process.

"I took my time healing, because that's what I had to do, and before I knew it I was tumbling again," Larson said. "I've been doing a whole lot of bars, and I just recently started doing my [double layout] dismount on a hard surface. I tumble and I vault. I am healed, but it's going to take a while to get my complete strength back. I'm going to have to do a lot of exercises and constantly check up on my ankles, and if I feel a little something [wrong], I can't neglect it. I need to watch it because I don't want it to happen again."

Larson's 2009 holiday celebrations began with a team party at All Olympia on Friday night. "It was a pot luck dinner," she said. "We brought sesame chicken wings, and they were really good!" Last night she and other AOGC gymnasts enjoyed a sleep-over and Secret Santa gift exchange at a teammate's home.

Larson said she is looking forward to a relaxing Christmas at home with her family, including her older sister, Willie, who attends the University of Southern California.

"We don't have a specific tradition," Larson said. "We haven't gone out of town for a holiday in a really long time. I'm happy that my sister is coming home. She shares an apartment with five other girls, and she only lives 45 minutes from home, but she seriously does not ever come home. We rarely get to see her, so I'm happy that she's coming."

Larson said Christmas Day is a mellow one for her family.

"We might go to the movies, but we don't really have a big Christmas dinner," Larson said. "We might go to some close friends' parties, but we like to 'chill' because that's the only time we have to be around family. We don't wake up at six in the morning to open presents. We do it around noon!"

Larson said she prefers to make resolutions that are not restricted to the new year.

"When I was younger I would write down an exact new year's resolution, and it would be something like 'Be nicer to my parents,'" she said. "I haven't done that in a while. I like to make resolutions, but not just for the new year, like being the best I can be and helping others. I have random things here and there, like maybe for the next couple of months I have to check myself and make sure I'm not as snappy – things that will help me improve myself."

Despite the injuries that prevented Larson from making her worlds debut in 2009, she said she has grown in confidence since she finished seventh at the 2008 U.S. Championships and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. First on her competitive wish list for 2010 will be the Pacific Rim Championships, April 28-May 2 in Melbourne.

"Once you reach a certain level in gymnastics, and once you're an Elite for a couple of years, it's not like you're constantly learning new skills like you do when you're moving up level by level," she told IG. "It's upgrading the skills you have, and getting them down and consistent. I feel I'm there now. It doesn't make it easier at all, but it makes you think, 'I can do this.' I want to make the skills a little stronger, and maybe upgrade with a twist here and an added connection there. It's not like, 'OK, you have to learn 10 new skills.' So it's not as much pressure. I'm not as nervous now. I'm just excited."

Read "All for One," an in-depth profile on Larson and All Olympia teammate Samantha Shapiro, in the July/August 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and "Shooting Star," a profile on Larson as a junior gymnast, in the November 2005 issue. To subscribe to IG magazine or order back issues, click here.

Comments (1)add comment

sw said:

0
...
What a special girl. Mattie Larson really appears to be an all-around sweet, good person. She is also an amazingly beautiful gymnast and one I hope the best for in 2010.
 
December 24, 2009
Votes: +1

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