The Antwerp Worlds may be over, but they wouldn’t be complete without a little nod to the non-retired gymnasts who couldn’t be there due to injury, illness or just plain post-Olympic rest. Here are 15 (well, 14 and a half) who are aiming to be back on the international scene in 2014:
1. Viktoria Komova, RUS. Meningitis kept the Olympic all-around silver medalist home from this year’s Worlds. From the hugely promising junior that she was, Komova’s senior career has been marked with disappointment (if you can really call being a perennial silver medalist at the top events a disappointment). Fortunately, at just 18, Komova does not seem anywhere near done, and her story is not finished. Except at this year’s Worlds. Shame.
2. Ksenia Afanasyeva, RUS. After huge successes at the European Championships in Moscow this spring and the World University Games in Kazan this summer, 2011 World floor champion Afanasyeva had foot surgery earlier this month and did not compete at Worlds. The Russians should be pleased at what she’s done this year, however: twice on home soil she’s made them proud, and as a potential World/Olympic champion on vault and floor, she too looks as though retirement is far away.
3. Diana Bulimar, ROM. Tiny Bulimar, an integral and underappreciated part of the Romanian team for the past few years, headed off for emergency knee surgery following a bad landing on vault at the Dutch International Friendly earlier this month. It’s a huge shame, as she finally seemed primed to make an all-around impact on the World stage.
4. Anastasia Grishina, RUS. The charming Grishina got a chance to make amends for her mistakes at the 2012 Olympics earlier this year at the European Championships in Moscow, and acquitted herself well, coming out with bronzes in the all-around and on beam, but she was never really considered for the World Championships. The reasons why are a bit fuzzy if you don’t read Russian (or maybe even if you do), but it seems it was either a lack of preparation, motivation or both. But with Bulmar and Afanasyeva both out of the competition, Grishina’s medal prospects on beam, floor and in the all-around were seriously improved.
5. Anna Dementyeva, RUS. The 2011 European all-around champion and fan favorite would have made a great fourth for the Russians at this competition. There were rumors going around several weeks ago that Dementyeva had hung up her leotard and returned to her hometown of Samara to coach, but it appears that may not be the case after all, and she could be back on the scene in 2014. Here’s hoping.
6. Jonathan Horton, USA. The two-time Olympian and two-time U.S. champion has been taking time off following shoulder surgery and the birth of his son David earlier this year. At 27, Horton is now the old man of the U.S. team, but he doesn’t compete like it. Expect him back for next season, and possibly one more Olympic run.
7. Jonna Adlerteg, SWE. The European silver medalist on uneven bars has suffered some non-gymnastics related health problems and didn’t have adequte time to prepare for this championships. Look out for Adlerteg, Sweden’s only gymnast at the 2012 Olympics, as the leader of a young and talented Swedish team next year.
8. Katelyn Ohashi, USA. The 2013 American Cup champion had shoulder surgery earlier this summer and the gossip is that she may not come back to elite gymnastics at all. Sadly, it’s uncertain that we’ll see that 7.1 beam routine of hers again in international competition.
9. Luke Carson, IRL. One of Ireland’s biggest hopes broke his leg bounding off the springboard on vault in training. It’s a big blow to the Irish, who were also currently without national hero Kieran Behan as he regroups following his Olympic run. Here’s wishing the determined Carson, who hopes to recover and compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games (even if just on pommel horse), a quick recovery.
10. Julie Croket, BEL. Fewer potential Olympians were as unlucky last year as Belgium’s Croket, who was a potential Olympic finalist on floor. Croket tore her ACL after the 2012 Europeans in Brussels, and elbow problems delayed her comeback debut in her home country.
11. Gabby Douglas, USA. The list of absent-but-not-retired wouldn’t be complete without a word about the Olympic all-around champion, who recently left Iowa and coach Liang Chow for sunny Los Angeles and her family. Douglas plans to keep training and hopes to be back in 2014 or 2015, though the latest word is that she is still sorting out her coaching situation.
12. Marcel Nguyen, GER. The 2012 Olympic all-around silver medalist has had a busy 12 months and decided that Worlds were a bit too much after such a long year. The competition wasn’t be the same without that enormous chest tattoo of his.
13. Oleg Stepko, UKR. One of the “big four” European all-around contenders who emerged at the European Championships this spring, the injured Stepko’s fiery spirit (and his own Nguyen-like chest tattoo) were be missed in Antwerp.
14. Aly Raisman, USA. The double Olympic gold medalist did make an appearance in Antwerp and said she has just resumed training at Brestyan’s Gymnastics in Massachusetts and has also begun some college coursework. When will we see her back out on the floor? Raisman made no promises, but she did say she hopes to make her comeback at next year’s U.S. Classic or the U.S. Nationals.
15. Honorary mention: Yin Alvarez, USA. Danell Leyva’s withdrawal from the U.S. world team meant his charismatic coach and stepfather Yin wasn’t there either. The competition lacked Yin’s victory dances, though Sam Mikulak’s dancing was a pretty good substitute.
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