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Disappointed Wagner Rallies Support for Olympic Participation
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Veronica Wagner

Despite the Swedish Olympic Committee's decision to not send Veronica Wagner to the 2008 Olympics, Wagner's admirers around the world continue to support her cause.

Shortly after Wagner won the all-around title at Swedish Championships last month, the SOC informed her and her coach, Staffan Soderberg, that Wagner would not be sent to Beijing.

"They think she is too injured to be well prepared," Soderberg told IG. "Her doctor, the ortoped who was with us on the floor during Competition I [preliminaries] in Athens in 2004, does not agree with the Olympic Committee, but they build their decision on what two physiotherapists are saying."

Soderberg said the injury in question was originally a back problem, but has led to an imbalance of Wagner's left knee.

"The back is now OK, but she is still having a little pain in the knee," Soderberg said. "It's not inside the knee, but on the back side of the knee, and it's probably caused by the ichias nerve. As I said, the specialist says it's not a big issue, but for the SOC it obviously was."

Soderberg cited Wagner's performance at the Swedish Championships as evidence of her fitness for the Beijing Games that will take place in August.

"On floor she scored exactly the same as her personal best on that event," he said. "On beam she was 0.15 from her personal best." (See video below).

Stefan Lindeberg, chairman of the SOC's Executive Board, clarified the committee's decision.

"The reason for not sending Veronica Wagner to the Games is that she has had different injury problems since last autumn," Lindeberg told IG. "She will still need weeks of rehab before being able to increase her training load."

At the same time, Lindeberg also acknowledged Wagner's contributions to the sport in her native country.

"We are fully aware of her capacity and importance for artistic gymnastics in Sweden," he said.

Wagner placed 46th all-around in team preliminaries at the 2007 World Championships, and thereby earned the Swedish women their only individual berth for the Beijing Games. At the 2008 European Championships, held in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in April, she placed 12th among gymnasts who performed on all four events in team preliminaries. No formal all-around contest took place in Clermond-Ferrand.

Soderberg said Wagner's worldwide supporters are rallying to her Olympic cause via an online petition. (Fans can sign the petition by filling in their name (Namn) and city/country (Stad/ort) in the fields below the photo of the woman and finally clicking "Skriv under.") More than 4,200 people have already signed the petition to encourage the SOC to reverse its decision.

Soderberg said the involvement of Wagner's admirers in Sweden and abroad is helping Wagner cope with the decision.

"Veronica is of course devastated, and there is [the petition] to try to make the SOC change their minds," he said. "I don't think it will happen, but it's a great support to Veronica."

Wagner on beam at Swedish Nationals in June

IG Online Related Features
Wagner Wins Two Titles in Buenos Aires (June 4, 2007)
Wagner: Family, Food and Fun for the Holidays (December 31, 2006)

IG Magazine Related Feature
"Veronica's Date: 2008" - feature (February 2005)

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