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Kupets Ready to Rebuild
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Georgia junior Courtney Kupets has been through a lot recently, beginning with a torn right Achilles' tendon March 1 during a home meet against Arkansas. Two days later, at the Athens Orthopedic Surgical Center, Dr. Dan Moye reattached the tendon on the second Kupets sister in as many years. Though the injury finished gymnastics for Ashley Kupets, who was a Georgia senior in 2007, her sister Courtney feels fortunate that she still has another year to compete.

Courtney Kupets

"I want to finish off [my career] — just doing gymnastics, not with an injury," Courtney Kupets says.

And if she's not quite ready by next January, will she redshirt the season? "Oh, I'll be ready," she adds with determination. "There's no doubt about it."

There certainly was no doubt in Kupets' mind as to what happened when she punched for her Arabian double front on floor exercise. "I was so shocked," Kupets says, adding that the tendon had been a little sore the Wednesday before. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? No, no, this isn't happening,' because I knew exactly what it was when I took off. It was more like I was in disbelief that that little bit of pain could turn into an Achilles tear."

Kupets, the 2002 world champion on uneven bars, had been through this before. She ruptured her other Achilles' tendon on the same trick during training at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim, Calif. She made it back in time to win the 2004 U.S. Championships, Olympic Trials and two medals at the 2004 Olympics (team silver, uneven bars bronze).

Now she's got her sights set on 2009. "That's what's keeping me motivated," she says.

Though she will miss the chance for her third consecutive NCAA titles in the all-around and with her team, Kupets says she would like take on a "new role" as a team leader this April in Athens. That's when the Gym Dogs will shoot for their fourth NCAA title in a row. Should they succeed, their total will climb to nine and match the record set by Utah.

That's a lot to miss out on, but to speak with Kupets you would never know it. She sounds as cheerful as ever. In fact, she sounds downright ecstatic when she tells you her cast comes off Thursday.

It's been an interesting year for Kupets, who at one point had considered a return to elite and a shot at the Olympics in Beijing. "I was very serious about it, but it was kind of getting in the way of the college gymnastics," she says.

Now gymnastics won't necessarily get in the way of college, so Kupets can probably concentrate a little more on her studies in interior design. "I knew what I wanted to do and I'm sticking with it," says Kupets, whose favorite design shows include "Property Ladder," and "Flip That House." "It's so much more work than I ever could have imagined."

That's as close to a complaint as you'll likely hear from the hopelessly upbeat Kupets. She seems to face everything with the same bubbly optimism.

Since she's rehabbed an Achilles' tendon before, Kupets knows what lies ahead. In the meantime, she refuses to wallow in self pity. It's just not her style. "I'm already on a plan for next year," she says cheerfully. "I've already started thinking about new things."

Asked if she will continue to compete an Arabian double front, Kupets laughs and says, "I said afterward that I was going to change that tumbling pass. [But] I'll probably do it again."

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