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Interview: Bridget Sloan (U.S.)
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Rehabbing from a knee injury, Bridget Sloan of the U.S. is confident she can rise to the occasion at this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Sloan, who will turn 16 on June 23, was the alternate member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart last fall. Following the 2007 Worlds, she finished third all-around at Good Luck Beijing, the Olympic test event held in the 2008 Games host city.

Now close to full recovery from a meniscus injury she suffered in Italy in March, Sloan is aiming for a starting spot on the American team at this summer's Olympics. She plans to compete on one or more events at the Visa [U.S.] Championships, June 5-7 in Boston; and then compete all-around at the U.S. Olympic Trials, June 19-22 in Philadelphia.

"Bridget is doing well," said Marvin Sharp, Sloan's coach at Sharp's Gymnastics Academy in Indianapolis. "She has been working very hard. Her strength is back and she looks better than ever. She plans to compete at the Visa Championships, but our focus, peaking, is really on the Trials."

In this IG Online interview, Sloan details her injury, recovery and the progress she is making toward Beijing.


Bridget Sloan

IG: What exactly was the nature of your injury?

BS: I injured my knee in vault warm-ups, and we didn't really know what was wrong with it until we got back to the States. They did a lot of testing, and although I had a slight tear in the (left) meniscus, I actually passed all of the meniscus tests. Then they did an MRI and that showed the tear. I had arthroscopic surgery and was back in the gym in a couple of days.

IG: Getting injured in an Olympic year, were you afraid it would ruin your chances?

BS: In a way, but the surgeon was great about explaining everything relating to the rehab and how long it would take. This was the quickest option and the best option, so it's really helped out.

IG: Are you on schedule with the rehab?

BS: I'm ahead of schedule.

IG: Why do you think you've been able to get ahead of schedule?

BS: I have a very high pain tolerance. So when my knee hurts, I just come to the conclusion that my knee's going to hurt, and deal with it. You can't do anything about it. You can't erase or rewind time, or change anything. You just have to deal with what you have.

IG: How close to 100 percent do you feel?

BS: About 98 percent.

IG: When do you think the other 2 percent will come?

BS: Hopefully soon. I can feel my knee getting stronger every day.

IG: How much do you think your injury has set you back?

BS: It really hasn't set me back much. It's made me stronger and work harder, and it's given me more perseverance.

IG: How much do you think your injury is affecting how the (U.S. Olympic team) selection committee views you?

BS: The selection committee is great in how they choose assignments for everybody at that point in time. You could be hurt now, but 100 percent by the time of the competition. They know when you are ready.

IG: What's been the biggest upside to your injury?

BS: It's made me stronger. You know, you get rips on your hands, and I think, "I've been through a knee injury. I can work through anything."

IG: In the tight race for spots on the Olympic team, what are you working on to be ready for Trials?

BS: With gymnastics, you really want to be strong on all four events. I've been working on all four. Right now I'm just trying to clean up my routines, and keep (repetitions) to a minimum. I don't take as many turns to warm up, and I just try my best.

IG: Are there any girls in particular that you feel are your toughest competition to make the team, especially on your best events?

BS: Gymnastics is a sport where anything can happen. We're all competing for six spots, and everybody is a team. We all cheer for each other. We don't pick out someone specific and say, "I have to beat her to make it." It's more of a team sport, and the best are going to go to Beijing.

IG: Marvin mentioned that you plan to perform two new skills on bars at the U.S. Championships. What are they?

BS: You'll just have to see!

IG: Have you added the new tricks on bars because you've needed to stay off your legs, or because you felt you needed them to be competitive in the Olympic year?

BS: In a way, I think that the rehab has made my legs stronger and more powerful, so bars has definitely come a lot easier for me. Hurting any part of your leg, you work a lot more on bars because bars is mostly arms. So getting an injury is never good, but it can help you in some ways.

IG: Internationally you came out of nowhere last year. In what ways have you changed as a gymnast since then?

BS: It's made me a much more confident gymnast, going to these competitions and seeing what it's like. Good Luck Beijing definitely helped my confidence level and focusing. When I go out in competitions now, since I've been to these big meets, I handle anything below it. [At Good Luck Beijing] I thought, "Well, Worlds is the biggest meet there is, and I did it last month..."

IG: In what ways do you think you can best help the team in Beijing?

BS: Right now, bars is one of my best events, and I really hope to represent the U.S. at the Olympics, and show them what I can do. The whole U.S. team has such chemistry, and we have great athletes on each event. So it's going to come down to who can do it the best, who has the most consistency and who can hit each routine. It'll be a tough competition, but everyone is looking great and everyone will be ready for it.

IG Online Related Feature
Sloan Ready to Stay on Competitive Roll (Dec. 8, 2007)

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