Thursday, August 17, 2000

Injured Moceanu withdraws from 2000 Olympic Trials

Coach Mary Lee Tracy on Events leading up to decision:

"Hi. Thanks for coming.

Dominique came into this competition after the (US) Championships very, very well-prepared and unfortunately very excited to show her improvements since the championships.

She had upgraded her vaulting, and had just trained incredibly well and its been quite a fun ride over the past two weeks getting her ready to be here today. When we got here on Tuesday, she went to her first event which was vaulting and showed her new vault. She was very happy and excited. She went to (uneven) bars and had great training and went to floor and began to warm up and her knee gave out. She had had a little bit of calf-tenderness during the past week but, as all elite gymnasts you deal with the pain and it didn't seem like much more than a sore calf. So she really didn't even tell me about it.

She kept training and when the knee gave out, she tried again and it gave out again and she said, 'I can't go, I'm afraid,' and so we stopped and took her to see doctor Larry Nassar and he recommended that she get an MRI just to rule out anything serious as far as the ACL or the Meniscus (tendon). She had an MRI on Tuesday night which came back very clean - all the ligaments were in place, and so we decided that on Wednesday she would take some anti-inflammatory to get some of the swelling out from the aggravation and, she didn't get any relief from that. At that point the orthopedist knew that there had to be something that was causing her knee to give out because she again could not punch on Wednesday when she tried to do some basic tumbling.

She contacted her orthopedist in Houston who did her knee surgery a year ago and he pulled up the MRI that he had taken before her surgery the last time. He also pulled up his notes from the surgery and they had the MRI that they took Tuesday night and they did a comparison. It wasn't a ligament, it was the OCD, which is a bone that hit a rough edge, which is what they took care of in the surgery a year ago. Another little piece happened to come off or lodge itself into a place that had stopped her range of movement and she could not get her leg completely straight. When you go to do tumbling and vaulting and you punch, it is very difficult if your leg cannot straighten all the way. When she would go to bend it would just give out.

Dominique and I went to sit down after we talked to Larry and decided whether it was worth the risk or not to go out there. It really came down that it wasn't even an issue of risk, but her body wouldn't let her do it. The sad part for Dominique and I is that she put so much into this, and I think all of you know since January it's been a long haul. In a very quick amount of time Dominique did an incredible job of training and that part is very sad for me but, it was a very enjoyable journey. We had a lot of fun training to get ready for this so we can't look back and say even though it was physically painful, there was a lot of good times in the process and we will continue to have good times.

Dominique will not be doing any type of petition, etc, obviously she is going to have to have surgery next week to have the bone removed. You wouldn't petition to get onto a team that had to train for five more weeks.

At this point, Dominique is just going to stay for the weekend, enjoy the competition, and cheer her teammates on as well as the rest of the USA. When we get back into Cincinnati on Monday she has an appointment with Dr. Kremchek, who will be doing the surgery. They are right now planning to do it as quickly as possible so that we can get this done and Dominique can get on with her life.

From there, she has the tour and after that we will sit down again in January and see whether we will become 'girlfriends' or continue our coach-gymnast relationship."

Dominique Moceanu:
"That really just says it all"

"I'm really sad right now but, at this point in my life, I guess it just happened to be this way. I gave it a shot and I can't look back and say that I didn't try. You know it is better here than (the injury occurring) a week from now. We caught it early and, you know, I wouldn't have wanted it to happen in a week or something. So I guess it's better now than later. I'll just get it taken care of and move on with life.

"Life goes on and of course I am going to be sad but I think that it's all going to be for a reason. Things happen for a reason and I have to look at life after all of this and get healthy and take care of myself and that is the most important thing."


Question: "Are you still hoping that there is another Olympics in your future?"
Dominique: "I'm not sure what is going to happen in the future right now. I'm just taking it one thing at a time. There is so much to plan with all that's happened in the past 24 hours. I haven't gotten too much ahead of myself to just to think of what I'm going to do with everything. Basically the first surgery and then the tour, and who knows what's next you know, in January we'll decide how my body feels and how it holds up and whether we (coach) are going to be really close friends or try again for a world comeback next year. Who knows? Right now it is left up in the air and I don't want to make a rash decision. I need to think it through because this is my career and I want a decision to be well thought out."

Q: "You said you want to do the tour. When will you be ready?"
A: "This will be a six-week surgery. It will be about three weeks until I can rehab and three weeks of rehab and I will be ready to go. I just have to get it (OCD) and that will help my range of motion. With the therapy and everything it should be really fast.

To Coach Tracy:
Q: "Do you know what brought the injury on?"
A: "It's pretty much just a wear and tear type injury. There is not really one thing - punching, twisting, jumping, everything that you do in gymnastics."

To Moceanu:
Q: "You said that everything happens for a reason but are you getting tired of saying that? Do you sit there and wonder what else can happen to you?
A: "Yeah, I guess I've been dealt a big deck of cards in my life and at such a young age. I don't know why things do happen, but I know that they happen for a reason. I've got to have faith and hope that everything will work out for the best and no matter how hard life gets sometimes, you know, I've learned a lot. I have great family there, I mean, everyone embraces me so well and everyone really, truly cares about me. It's great to have that this time around, everyone to support me through my life. I'm just going to keep believing that it's all going to be alright in the long run."

Q: "Are you going to watch the games in Sydney, or is that something that's out of the question?"
A: "Actually, I'm trying to get over there. I wanted to go to the meet for a little bit to see if I can cheer my teammates on and, hopefully be there if I can and if not I will definitely watch it. It's the Olympics, who misses the Olympics? It's an amazing event and, yeah I'll be sad watching it but I'll be rooting for our team. I have to get used to it because from here on out I will be watching it."

Q: "What was your first reaction last night when you first knew you couldn't compete?"
A: "I'm feeling a lot better today than I was last night. I got all the tears out and called my mom and the family and friends that were going to come and watch. You know I felt like gosh, why now, I let everybody down but it's not true. I know and Mary Lee and Terry know that in the gym, we gave it 100% and I showed them what I was capable of. Nobody ever thought that I could make it back in six months and we proved together that we could, and that's all that matters. It was hard yesterday, I mean, its definitely a hard thing to grasp and realize that this is kind of over for me now, and maybe I'm not on the team but I've accomplished a lot in my life that I'm very proud of and I wouldn't take anything back."

Q: "Have you talked with your 1996 teammates since you've withdrawn and what was their reaction?"
A: "I've talked with Amanda and Jaycie and they just embraced me and gave me hugs. They love me like sisters and they have been great to me and Shannon just came off the bus and gave me a big hug and she said 'it's going to be alright' and I said, 'I know that it will be'. They've been great and given me a ton of support and I'm really close with Amanda and Jaycie."

Q: "There are so many gymnasts that are coming out at 20 or 23, do you see that as a reason to be optimistic that maybe something can happen?"
A: "Sure, why not? You have to leave your options open and you never know. You don't know what the future lies and what's in store for you. You have to take it one thing at a time and a lot of older gymnasts have come back, and look at all the Olympians now. It could possibly happen, that is why I'm not making any decisions right now. I'm just trying to heal up and take it one step at a time."

Q: "On Tuesday when you first started feeling it did you think it was a serious thing or just a regular pain?"
A: "Well, at first I wasn't sure. I wanted to make sure it was okay and I didn't know what to think. I knew there was something in there, but you don't want to make any rash decisions or just say 'Oh my gosh, I have to stop now', so we just kind of waited because sometimes it could be just a strain or something that just needs a day to relax because it just had a spasm. We had to go check it out an that is what we did. The second day I started to feel like there was no way I could go, and that's when I realized that its not going to go away in a night - there was something more in there." 

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