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If history is any indication, a 2012 Olympic comeback for Alicia Sacramone might just be possible.

 

Don’t get me wrong – it’s going to be incredibly tough.  But so was the case for Courtney Kupets, who made a stunning comeback from the exact same injury in 2003 to make the 2004 Olympic team.  And Courtney didn’t just make that Olympic team – she won both the national championships (tied with Carly Patterson) as well as the Olympic Trials, looking better than ever on all four events.

 

Most of us realized immediately after Alicia Sacramone’s Achilles rupture at the world championships in October that she obviously had less time to recover for the Olympics than Courtney Kupets did eight years before.  After all, Kupets’ injury occurred in August of 2003, while Sacramone’s occurred in October.  The Summer Olympic Games typically take place in July or August.

 

But given how successful Kupets’ Olympic comeback was in 2004 and the fact that many of us have been considering Sacramone a long shot at best to return in time for London, I decided to do a specific comparison of the timetables for these two gymnasts with regards to their Achilles recoveries.  I was quite surprised at the results, which are summarized in the table below:

Achilles Comeback Timetables: Courtney Kupets (2003-2004) and Alicia Sacramone (2011-2012)

 

Courtney Kupets (2003-2004)

Alicia Sacramone (2011-2012)

Tears Achilles Doing Double Arabian 8/19/03

Time Since Surgery

Tears Achilles Doing Double Arabian 10/6/11

Time Since Surgery

Has Surgery on Achilles 8/23/03 *(estimate)

Has Surgery on Achilles 10/10/11

Competes Bars and Beam at 2004 U.S. Classic

39 weeks

1st day of 2012 U.S. Classic (TBD)

Begins 2004 U.S. Championships (Wins AA)

41 weeks, 5 days

1st day of 2012 U.S. Championships

34 weeks, 3 days

Begins 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials (Wins AA)

44 weeks, 6 days

1st day of 2012 US. Olympic Trials

37 weeks, 3 days

Begins 2004 Olympic Games

52 weeks, 1 day

1st day of 2012 Olympic Games

41 weeks, 6 days

 

*I did have to estimate which particular day Courtney Kupets had her surgery since I didn’t have the exact date, but I do know she left the competition in Anaheim as soon as possible to get the surgery done.  I used an estimate of four days, the same number of days Alicia took before having her surgery.

 

Courtney Kupets Bars 2004 U.S. Classic

 

 

 

Courtney Kupets Beam, Floor, and Vault 2004 U.S. Championships

 

 

 

 

Obviously, Alicia DOES have less time than Courtney did for the same corresponding steps of the process, but what surprised me was the realization that Alicia might have just enough time to sneak back into the mix.  What’s most important to note is that Courtney Kupets actually was in peak form at the 2004 U.S. Championships, at about 41 weeks and 5 days following her surgery, and that’s nearly the identical amount of time Alicia has before the 2012 Olympic Games again.

 

What might come into play is just how much time Marta is willing to give Alicia to get into Olympic form.  My guess is that Alicia might not be at full strength at the U.S. Championships or even the Olympic Trials, but if Marta is willing to take her to the selection camps just prior to the Olympic Games, she may be able to prove she is ready for the actual Olympics.  Some might argue that with the emergence of McKayla Maroney and a couple of other gymnasts on the team throwing Amanars on vault, Sacramone’s presence might not be as necessary as it was over the last couple of years.  Perhaps beam could become even more critical than vault?  A healthy and strong Sacramone will at least be in the mix, and as we see every Olympic cycle, it’s going to be a survivor’s game to the very end.