Olympic silver medalist and UCLA senior Samantha Peszek told IG she is considering an extra year of NCAA competition next season if she is physically up to the task, but that she will not decide until after the current season ends next month.
Samantha Peszek (UCLA)
"If all goes well, then I'll come back and do it one more time," said Peszek after she won the all-around title and led her UCLA team to a tri-meet win over Utah State University and Bowling Green State University on Sunday in Los Angeles. "For right now, I'm letting my body take it day by day, and not getting ahead of myself."
Peszek, a member of the U.S. team that placed first at the 2007 World Championships and second at the 2008 Olympic Games, may opt to compete during the 2014-15 NCAA season because she sat out the 2012-13 season after tearing her right Achilles' tendon. She suffered the injury in December 2012, just prior to the start of the 2012-13 NCAA meet season in her junior year.
As a result of "redshirting" in her junior year, Peszek is eligible to compete an additional NCAA season if she chooses.
The 22-year-old Peszek is not rushing her decision, however.
"I've been asked this question a lot lately, especially by Miss Val (UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field) and everyone close to me," said Peszek, who also won the all-around at a March 7 tri-meet, which was her first all-around start since the 2012 NCAA Championships. "I just want to take it day by day. My main priority right now is this team and this year, so I'm sure I'll make a decision when the season's over. But for right now, I just wanted to focus on the team we have, and putting all that I have into this year."
Despite the apparent ease with which Peszek seems to again be performing her routines, she said her Achilles' injury and a stress reaction on one of her heels have made her return difficult. "To be honest, it really hasn't been easy," said Peszek, who won the NCAA title on balance beam in 2011. "My body's had a lot of wear-and-tear over the years, so I've been doing a lot of training outside – not really cross-training, but other regimens to supplement the numbers that I can't do in the gym. That's really given me the confidence to do what I do, and, having the experience that I have, just able to trust myself. Knowing that my team believes in me too is really helpful."
Although Peszek said she is uncertain of her physical capability to withstand another year of training and competition, she is sure of her psychological readiness.
"Physically, I don't know," she told IG. "Mentally there's no question about whether I still like the sport and love doing it. I think it's pretty clear to everyone here that I love the sport. I love doing gymnastics and I love performing. So that's not really a question."
Samantha Peszek is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
Peszek profile (November 2006)
Peszek two-page center poster (July/August 2007)
Peszek and U.S. team cover photo, 2007 World Championships special issue (October 2007)
Peszek cover photo and interview (June 2008)
2008 Olympic Games special issue (October 2008)
2011 NCAA Championships coverage (May 2011)
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