Friday, April 8, 2011
Disaster At The European Championships
Aliya Mustafina went down at the European Championships with a knee injury that we can only suspect will keep her out for much of the next year. For Aliya and the sport, this is terrible. Knee injuries are bad news. A torn achilles is devastating, but we've seen improvements in surgical technique that now has athletes back up to speed within a year. A knee injury can leave some with big bulky braces and they may never bound the same way again.
One factor that cannot be ignored is that gymnastics is quickly approaching the physical limit. Back in the 80s and early 90s, difficult skills were performed but they were highlights of the routine. Now every skill and combination needs to possess great risk. This has led to sloppy, mistake-filled routines and it has also resulted in a tremendous increase in severe injuries. Gymnastics is no longer a sport where one can escape uninjured. A gymnast's success often depends on when they are injured as opposed to 'if' they suffer a serious injury. Luckily, some like Nastia Liukin manage to time their injuries such that they are able to still reach their ultimate peak. Many others aren't as lucky.
Love her, hate her or simply be fascinated by her, Aliya Mustafina is one of the leading personalities in the sport. It is terrible for the current star of the sport to succumb to injury. Aliya is currently at the top of her career and was peaking to achieve even greater heights later this year at the World Championships. This year was supposed to be about Mustafina and Komova battling for titles, yet both are now out with injuries. Komova may well be back on top later this year, but Mustafina will now be on the sidelines. Imagine how boring the sport would've been if many of the great stars and rivalries were never able to occur. One rarely saw Comaneci, Boginskaya or Silivas miss a major meet due to injury. Unfortunately, one has to wonder if this injury will play out in a similar scenario to Dobre's knee injury that left her a shadow of her former self.
When the FIG continues to ask older bodies to perform more and more difficulty that is better suited for younger gymnasts, injuries like this are inevitable. Note that Mustafina didn't even perform full difficulty in qualifying because it is simply too taxing to do so. This is a problem for Russia and even puts her in question for the Olympics (whether or not she will be at full strength.) It is a sad day for Mustafina and the sport as a whole. Without the sport's top star, every title begins to feel like it needs an asterisk.
Posted by OlympicEffect at 12:13 PM
Labels: Aliya Mustafina, European Championships, FIG, Injury
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Really, really well said. Great post.ReplyDelete
Huh. On first glance, it looks like she twists into the knee and I was thinking ACL tear. But on the reply, from behind, it looks like she hyperextended and popped it inwards, which could mean an MCL and (hopefully) a much less severe injury. I guess we'll have to wait and see.ReplyDelete
she probably got the terible triad, tearing her acl mcl and medial meniscus. sucks for her, however, In 1999 Kendall Beck tore her acl for the third time and came back stronger and made the olympic trials. She could be back.ReplyDelete
Gee, maybe Sac is smart not to upgrade!ReplyDelete
She could definitely come back, but it is a huge blow to her and to her Olympic preparation.ReplyDelete
Maybe it's me, but it looked like she was a little unstable BEFORE she started her run??ReplyDelete
I have to agree about the physical limits. I think we may have already hit that point. I mean, I can't really picture them doing things much harder than already are! I just don't see the possibility of quad or quintuple twists, for instance. It's high, high time to dial down the difficulty and refocus on the ARTISTRY OF THE SPORT.
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic (not too familiar with knee injuries) but can we hope it's just a severe sprain?? Kerri Strug's bars fall in 1994 looked horrible, but she ended up just spraining her back/neck. I'm guessing it's probably a tear, though. : (ReplyDelete
I agree with anon @ 12:26. The inward deflection is more likely to result in an MCL rip, but given the twisting that was occurring, ACL injury could also have occurred. This injury has made me very sad, and I love what you said in the last sentence, AJ. Well put. This is a dark day for the sport because RUS won't stand a shot at the team title without Aliya. So, so sad.ReplyDelete
So sad. We can only hope this isn't a career ender like it was for Aurelia Dobre. She was such a wonderful amazing gymnast with so much potential, but could never come back from the knee injury...ReplyDelete
Russia still definitely has a shot, but it opens the door tremendously.ReplyDelete
From IG's facebook page:ReplyDelete
"We just received a news release about Mustafina that said, It seems to be a knee distorsion. ...She's now on the way to the hospital. More information to follow..."
Can anyone explain what a 'distorsion' is?
as sad as this is, i still think pushing the limits is good for the sport. basketball would be a lot safer if every shot was a soft layup, but people want slam dunks. most professianl athletes have to deal with a serious injury at some point in their career. show me a basketball or a football player that never has, and i'll show you a benchwarmer. why should gymnastics be any different? I really hope that she can recover in time for the olympics. but i really really hope that people dont use this as an excuse to dumb down gymnastics into a pretty dance recital.ReplyDelete
I'm so sad for her. She's definitely good for the sport. I wish her a speedy recovery.ReplyDelete
Injuries happen, even during the simplest of daily activities.ReplyDelete
Hopefully Mustafina is okay, but if it's an injury requiring surgery/a lot of time off, I'm confident she will return to full strength with quality doctors and a strong rehab regimen. Knee injury repair has come a long way, and someone as young as Mustafina should bounce back without lingering issues. Let's hope for that anyway. She makes the sport better!
This is terrible. I have to agree with AJ, this code and even the judges are encouraging injury. Mustafina under-rotates her Amanar, beam dismount and floor twisting rather often, but the judges have rewarded her full credit under a code that encourages athletes to push pat their limits. However, mother nature isn't as forgiving when it comes to all the short landings.ReplyDelete
the code does not encourage injury, that just comes with the territory. the code incourages awesomeness. the reason mustafina is good for the sport is because she's awesome. if she didnt do a lot of difficult skills, she wouldnt be the world champion.ReplyDelete
Nooooooooo! Coach is reporting it is a torn meniscus. :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(ReplyDelete
I don't know much about that type of injury, except that it requires surgery and rehab....does this mean she is out of worlds, or could she possibly come back in time?ReplyDelete
If it's her meniscus, she'll be out for Worlds. But, she could come back from that before Olys. Memmel had a torn labrum (same type of cartilage injury to a synovial joint, just in the shoulder) that took her about a year to come back from. Mustafina is younger than Memmel was then, so I think it's possible to see her come back. However, the number of twisting components in her routines will have to be greatly reduced because that's what's going to aggravate the injury. No more 3/1s off beam or Amanars.ReplyDelete
The issue with Mustafina is that she relies heavily on twisting for her D-score and almost all of it is done improperly, which puts addition strain of the lower parts of her body. I agree with "Mister" in that it is tough to envision her throwing an Amanar or a triple full beam dismount or the 3.5 on floor since she is almost never squared when she lands any of them. I've been surprised that Alexandrov continually has let her compete this way. She was an injury waiting to happen.ReplyDelete
MAYBE it can be a blessing in disguise? If this is going to significantly limit her twisting skills, well... she was always performing them extremely sloppily and incorrectly. Assuming she can recover in time for the olympics and get back to form, maybe she won't incur huge form deductions for terrible twisting?ReplyDelete
Bridget Sloan tore her meniscus in March '08 and was back competing again in June. She was at full strength by the Olympics in August. If that's all it is, I would not count Mustafina out of Worlds at all.ReplyDelete
Did Bridget Sloan have as many chucked twisting skills as Mustafina? Because those are the skills that are going to have to go.ReplyDelete
Mustafina could certainly be back for bars at Worlds, but she won't be doing an Amanar and compositionally, beam and bars are going to be tough to reconfigure with so little time. However, a meniscus tear means lesser impact of the Olympics than ACL etc.ReplyDelete
5:38 beat me to it--yes, Bridget tore her meniscus, had surgery and was back in time for nationals and Olympic trials. If Aliya has surgery and it goes as well as Briget's did, I see no reason why she can't compete at Worlds--they're what, October? November? I guess it's better it happened this year, than next year, which would have been truly disastrous. I also wish that there wasn't this great push for difficulty, but more room for creativity and execution. Maybe we wouldn't have so many injuries. Have there been any major players on the international scene who have not had major injuries sometime in their careers? (Shawn's case is iffy, imo.)ReplyDelete
I can't help it but this news made me cry. I've been having such a shitty day and now my favorite gymnast is down and out.ReplyDelete
The thing with a meniscus surgery is healing time depends on the severity of the tear and it's exact location. If the tear is on the outer edge and can be repaired it actually takes longer for it to heal (3-4 months before the start for full activity and even then yu should be starting slow) than if it is more towards the center and they can simply remove the damaged area (about 8 weeks with a slow return). Also, 20-40% of repaired meniscus tear re-tear and require removal of the damaged cartilige. I would think it'd be safe to say, that if she continues to do the all the twisting with her specific technique, we have a good chance of looking at a re-tear.ReplyDelete
Perhaps this will be a wake up call for her coaches (and all other coaches for that matter) to either make the athlete learn the skill properly or don't let them compete it!ReplyDelete
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