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Mustafina Heads to Munich for Knee Surgery
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World champion Aliya Mustafina, who injured her knee Friday in Berlin, left Monday for Munich where she will undergo surgery by the same doctor who operated on Boris Becker and Oksana Chusovitina.

The Russian star suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament on vault — landing a Yurchenko 2 1/2 — during the first rotation of the women's all-around final on Friday at the European championships in Berlin. Mustafina stood up the vault, but her left leg appeared not fully rotated when she landed. (Click here for video.)

"I cannot say what the problem was with this landing," said Chusovitina, a five-time Olympian. "How this mistake happened is not very clear because Mustafina went into the vault very well. But this is sport, it happens."

The initial diagnosis was an injury to the lateral meniscus, Russian team coach Valentina Rodionenko said.


World all-around champion Aliya Mustafina with coach Alexander Alexandrov after her knee injury at the European championships in Berlin

"It was thought to be an injured meniscus," Rodionenko told "All Sport" news agency. "The diagnosis was clarified through the imaging: rupture of the left anterior cruciate ligament. Aliya spent the night in the hospital and in the morning she was allowed to return to the hotel. They put on a tight bandage so there would be no swelling, because a lot of swelling causes problems for the surgery."

Mustafina was the top gymnast in Wednesday's qualification, outscoring her teammate Anna Dementyeva by nearly 3 points. After Mustafina's injury in the all-around final, Dementyeva stepped up to claim the gold for Russia.

The 16-year-old Mustafina returned to Berlin's Max-Schmeling-Halle, albeit on crutches, to cheer her teammates in the apparatus finals.

"Yesterday, Aliya came to the competition, rooting for our guys and girls," Rodionenko said Sunday. "She also came today, of course. She's going through the normal emotional and psychological experience! She's a bright, capable child, and understands everything. Yes, the injury is serious. Bad, but not terrible. It requires surgery."

Accompanied by the Russian team's interpreter, Mustafina went to Munich for surgery at one of the top clinics in Germany.

"Aliya could have had surgery in Berlin," Rodionenko said. "But local experts themselves insisted that it's better to contact one of the clinics in Munich that specializes in knee joints. This is where the great German tennis player Boris Becker had surgery and where the German national football team goes."

Chusovitina, who has competed for Germany since 2006, went to the same expert for knee surgery after the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Chusovitina, who turns 36 in June, won the silver medal on vault at the 2008 Olympics and in Berlin.

"If she does surgery at the right place and has proper rehabilitation, trust me, she can vault," Chusovitina told newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets." "The doctor the Russians are going to operated on me. Same knee, but I had another problem. After Athens I could not vault, nor even really do anything. After eight months of looking for the cause, only this doctor figured out what was wrong. I had the surgery, and after two weeks I was walking without pain. Believe me, he's really a professional of the highest class. For 30 years he's been operating only on knees."

Speaking to the same Russian newspaper, head coach Alexander Alexandrov was upbeat.

"Doctors have promised that everything will be fine," said Alexandrov, who is also Mustafina's personal coach. "It's just hard to get through the rehabilitation period, because the recovery from these surgeries is almost more important than the surgery itself. In any case, it is already clear that Mustafina will miss the world championships like she missed the European championships. But this is not so bad: before the Olympic Games there will be yet another Europeans. Getting competition experience again is so important — once she has recovered."

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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