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What Price Are the Americans Paying for Gold?
(11 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Former gymnast Dvora Meyers authored a thoughtful piece on the rash of injuries plaguing the U.S. women's gymnastics team. Click here to read the article on Slate.com.

Comments (9)add comment

Elsie Pritchard said:

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Participating in any sport at high level, brings its injuries. Just look at the injuries to players in the current Rugy World Cup being played. Ultimately it is up to the gymnast/athlete/player to decide up to which grade of injury he/she will endure to reach the top.
 
October 14, 2011
Votes: -2

Kathy Schluntz said:

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Owner Quantum Gymnastics
There is sometimes a fine line between pushing yourself to the max, and causing yourself injury. It is also difficult to know where that line is, so many variables come into play. In gymnastics, a split second error, distraction, over turn etc etc, can cause injuries. And yes, it goes with sports in general.
 
October 14, 2011
Votes: +3

jollybarb said:

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Injuries in gymnastics are also an unfortunate consequence of placing repeated stress on growing bodies. The plates have not yet fused and the gymnast's strength-to-weight ratio plays into whether they are fit for training new skills. Didn't coach Liukin comment recently that he had to slow Nastia's training down so her musculature had a chance to catch up with her bone growth? Coaches must always be vigilant about what level of stress a gymnast's limbs can take and consider physiological growth and development while making smart decisions. Wieber's coach has done a fine job of preparing her and while she has obviously let her vault slide a little in recent months, it has paid off for her because she is now the seemingly uninjured WORLD CHAMPION. Congratulations Jordyn and coach! Good job.
 
October 14, 2011
Votes: +8

georgert said:

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While I've never attended a national training camp, it seems that the popular perception of the prep and selection camps colors them on par with slave labor camps. On the other hand, numerous coaches have commented that while the practice sessions are all business, actual volume is often less than what the athletes experience at their home gyms. The only thing that I got out of the Slate article, which seemed heavy on hearsay and light on fact, is that there is a significant gap between what the general public believes about the NTC and the selection process, and what actually takes place. I suspect that the athletes' coaches have significant input into the decision making process, more so than the popular belief that Marta rules with an iron fist. In any case, it seems to me that USAG might want to consider opening up the camps, at least the early ones, to greater access by the media.
 
October 15, 2011
Votes: +5

elizabeth Peters said:

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Well lets see this is a sport where you flip your body through the air and sometimes you land short or over-rotate and the result is often injury. Lightly sprianed ankles? I think most gymnasts you talk to have some kind of mild injury due to training. Let's blame the real problem.... the code. And really even if you change the code gymnasts will still get hurt.
 
October 15, 2011
Votes: +6

jollybarb said:

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Well said Georgert. I totally agree that the coaching staff must have a say in the training style used and conditioning and fitness training is quite different from repeatedly training a double-double on floor exercise. I think are politics at play and much pressure being placed on Martha to retire from her post. I think some gymnasts are being injured because their selection of skills does not match their strength-to-weight ratio. That effectively means they can only benefit from additional conditioning. Diet also plays a massive role in physiology and I hope for example that the girls are getting plenty of calcium and concurrently getting the necessary vitamin D to absorb the calcium. Some of the girls look like they have not seen the sun for a long time (eg. Komova at the current WC). Blaming Martha probably reflects incredible ignorance about the many factors that contribute to injuries.
 
October 15, 2011
Votes: +2

Koruton said:

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I agree with the article. Of course injuries are part of gymnastics as they are part of every other sport too. And we might not be able to trace them directly back to overtraining but looking through the footage of competitions in the last few years, there are quite a lot of bad examples. Just one of them: On Visa Championships 2011 we watched an exhausted looking Rebecca Bross falling several times, finally going down with a knee injury on a DTY. Last years Visa Champion had competed on a broken bone in her foot during the previous Worlds and Visa 2011 was her first major championship after the recovery. She looked nowhere near ready to compete and the question was raised whether she should have been allowed to compete at Visa and even at Worlds 2010...

However, I don't think that this is first of all an American problem. True, nations who are not part of the top 5 or who don't have as many top gymnasts are probably handling the ones they have more catiously. But Russia might not be setting a very good example: Viktoria Komova was certainly under a lot of pressure to compete at Worlds 2011 in Tokyo despite being back to training for only a few months after a major injury. She looked unhealthy, sporting darky cyrcles under her eyes and an even paler complexion than usual.
I personally think there should be something like mandatory health checks at the beginning of Worlds and Olympics: Rebecca Bross definetley would have been ruled out in 2010 and Anna Dementyeva, who had 103 F (!!) just before WC 2011 would not have competed either... IMO we have relied on coaches and parents to restrict the amount of pressure and the time spent on training long enough now - obviously it doesn't work in all of the cases. When both partents and coaches push a 15-year-old, who probably puts quite much pressure on herself too, to a World Championship the danger exists that no one is going to be sensable enough to put a stop to it when the gymnast is being seriously overtrained.
The problem is not primarily with the Americans, it's with the sports that demands more sacrifices than ever, more acro, more experience at a younger age. Setting up Youth Olympics most definetley is a step in the wrong direction - if we want beautiful gymnastics, performed by healthy athletes who won't battle athrosis at 21, we might have to think about cutting down on our expectations on the sports and the athletes.
Otherwise, there will just be more injuries, more replacable faces who make their explode into the scene age 16 but then fail to live up to the pressure. Right now, gymnastics creates another superstar pretty much every year while the one of the previous year fades to oblivion while batteling a neverending serie of injuries.
 
October 16, 2011
Votes: +3

Kevin said:

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I do not agree with the decentralization of the US women's team, but allowing one person to make every last choice is not democratic but rather Ceaucescu-ish . Marta deserves our respect for the work and the program she has put into motion, but should we not also have a selection committee as we had for the 2000 Olympic team..call Talavera back. The camps are healthy for the grils to bond into a unified team but could they not also do this with a theatre and training trip to New York City?? Shopping extravaganzas?? These are still young ladies and have the interests of other gals their age. The first American to medal at the international level trained in just a few gyms (SCATS, NAAG, Gossfeld's and later Karoly's) and most lived away from home with host families or dormitories. Allow the team to be named at the trials, but should one girl be injured, she is deleted from the line-up and a healthy athlete given the opportunity to prove herself and the USA to field the best team possible, But please someone give Marta credit for the job she has done, despite her defects of character, the code of points is for machines and not young ladies with hearts, souls and bodies that may be injured.
 
October 16, 2011 | url
Votes: +2

Koruton said:

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USA Gymnastics just announced the Olympic Team is going to be announced directly after the Trials and that there will be no selection camps at all! :-)
Bravo!
 
October 17, 2011
Votes: +3

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