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Spring Making All-Around Recovery
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Justin Spring told IG he is optimistic about returning to all-around competition next summer.
Justin Spring

"My coach and I took the injury in a positive way," Spring said Monday. "We are going to use this time to train rings and pommel horse and return to doing the all-around, and hopefully better my chances of making the 2008 Olympic team."

On Aug. 17, Spring fell on a crooked double-twisting Kasamatsu vault (Lopez) while competing at the U.S. Championships in San Jose, Calif. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee.

On Aug. 15, the first of two days of men's competition in San Jose, Spring was shaky, with falls on parallel bars, high bar and vault. On Aug. 17, prior to the injury on vault, he had performed cleanly, hitting his routines on high bar and floor exercise.

Spring, the gold medalist on parallel bars at the 2007 Pan American Games, had been a strong contender to make the team to this year's world championships, held Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart.

Spring ended up finishing first on high bar and second on floor exercise in San Jose, but said he was unsure of his world team status prior to vault.

"It's always hard to say when the selection committee is deciding," he said. "I didn't think doing the vault was going to guarantee a spot on the team, but I knew it would help my chances. Nonetheless I still think I had a fair shot with only a (Tsukahara) 2 1/2 on vault, but I was ready to do the Lopez.

"The U.S. (men's) program committee has been pushing to see upgraded vaults for years and I was confident I could do this vault. I competed the Lopez at Pan American Championships and actually posted the high score of the meet on vault. I was ready to compete it at USAs but it was just an off day."

Spring underwent surgery on Aug. 28 to repair the torn ligament.

"My surgery ended up being a standard ACL (repair) with no other complications—I was lucky," he said. "Because of that recovery is going well. I have been walking for over two weeks now without any brace or crutches. I have been lifting in the weight room for the last four weeks and ring strength is coming along great. "I just started swinging on parallel bars and high bar to keep my hands in shape."

Spring was a 12-time All-American for the University of Illinois, and has been an assistant coach at the university since graduating in 2006.

Spring said he hopes to return to competition at the U.S. Winter Cup in February.

"I hope to do four events, everything except floor and vault," he said. "I should just start tumbling and vaulting around that time as well. Given the time line and the rehab schedule, I should be ready to compete all-around at U.S. Championships."

The U.S. Championships for men will be held May 22-24 in Houston and the U.S. Olympic Trials will be held June 19-22 in Philadelphia.

At the 2007 Worlds, the U.S. men finished fourth, rising nine ranks since the team's record low of 13th place at the 2006 Worlds.

"I was so impressed with the U.S. men's performance!" Spring said. "We have established ourselves as a medal-contending team for the Olympics. With everyone training to peak in 2008 I think the U.S. men stand a good chance to place in the top three at the Olympics... I just hope I am able to contribute."

Read "Spring Loaded," a profile on Justin Spring, in the February 2005 issue of International Gymnast.

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