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Broken Ankle Can't Sideline Memmel
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Memmel competes on bars in the Olympic team finals

U.S. gymnast Chellsie Memmel revealed Thursday that the bum ankle that limited her to one event at the Olympics wasn't just tweaked — it was broken.

But that couldn't stop the 20-year-old former world champion from contributing to the U.S. team's silver medal.

"I'm at the Olympics and I'm not going to pass this up," she told the press in Beijing. "It's a 'suck-it-up' moment."

Memmel broke her lower right tibia while tumbling Aug. 1, eight days before the Olympic team competition began. USA Gymnastics stayed mum about her condition, stating cryptically that it was "monitoring her condition."

Prior to the injury, Memmel likely would have competed all four events for the U.S. team in preliminaries. The ankle injury meant she chalked up for uneven bars only.

In Sunday's qualifying, Memmel missed a Tkatchev, losing a chance for the individual event final. She was on her game, however, in the 3-up-3-count team final on Tuesday. Punctuated by a stuck double front dismount, her routine brought 15.725, the fifth-highest score of the night for the Americans.

"Under the circumstances, amazing!" is how her father and coach, Andy Memmel, evaluated his daughter's performance in Beijing.

Up until Friday, the U.S. could have replaced her with one of three alternates training in Japan, a short flight away. The alternates included Jana Bieger, a triple silver medalist at the 2006 World Championships.

However, Andy Memmel told IG there was no question that Memmel would compete in Beijing if she could still do uneven bars.

Memmel's uneven bars set was a crucial part of the U.S. team's challenge to the host Chinese. The co-world champion on the event in 2003, Memmel is the only American besides Nastia Liukin to boast an A-Panel score of 7.0 or above.

It isn't the first time Memmel has proven her toughness. She suffered a broken foot in May 2004, but recovered quickly enough to be an alternate to the U.S. team to Athens, and won the all-around at the 2005 Worlds. At the team finals at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, she suffered a torn shoulder on uneven bars but finished the routine, and competed on balance beam and floor exercise.

Memmel will not need a cast, and the injury will not prevent her from taking part in the 30-city "Gymnastics Superstars" tour that begins Sept. 7.

"We X-rayed it today and it is healing well," Andy Memmel said Thursday.

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