A torn Achilles tendon could essentially be seen as a career death knell for any athlete, especially one that relies so heavily on the ability to spring from their feet with power and precision. Team USA veteran Alicia Sacramone, who suffered an Achilles' tear last October, hopes to prolong her impressive run with a strong performance in Friday's U.S. Olympic gymnastics team trials.
Sacramone, a Boston native, is among 15 gymnasts fighting for five roster spots at the trials in San Jose, California. The 24-year-old faces steep odds, considering her shaky health background and the emergence of America's next generation of women's gymnastics stars.
Sacramone is one of three Olympic veterans vying for a return trip to the Summer Games. She joins 2008 Beijing Olympics teammates Bridget Sloan and Nastia Liukin in an effort to qualify for the 2012 Games in London.
That trio helped contribute to Team USA's silver medal effort in 2008, but plenty has happened in the last four years that puts their Olympic status in jeopardy. No one has dealt with more adversity than Sacramone, who shredded her Achilles during a training session just eight months ago.
The injury caused her to miss the world gymnastics championships, and it put her Olympic outlook in doubt. A somber Sacramone seemed unsure of her future at the time.
"I am so disappointed to not be able to compete and be a part of this team's competitive success," Sacramone told Fox Sports shortly after the injury. "This is an incredibly talented and wonderful group of girls and I have great confidence in their ability to go out and represent the United States to the best of their ability."
Now, after an arduous recovery process and relentless rehabilitation, she is ready to put it all on the line in San Jose. Sacramone will compete in vault and beam preliminaries on Friday evening, hoping to qualify for Sunday night's nationally televised women's final.
For Sacramone, retirement surely looms in the near future. But she'd love to compete in London before calling it a career.
"I retired after Beijing," Sacramone told Mercury News reporter Mark Emmons:
I thought, 'I'm never going to do this again.' I took a two-year hiatus and kind of grew up. I needed to get away from the gym. But then I decided that I wanted to end my career on a little better note, because I wasn't at my best in Beijing.